The Urban Legend:
Over the years, one of the most hotly debated rumors of the series was that of the Bond girl who was once a man. This urban legend is actually true, as For Your Eyes Only‘s Caroline Cossey was actually born Barry Kenneth Cossey: a man. However, over the years the truth has become distorted. When discussed, people often assume that the Bond girl in question is the main love interest of the movie: Melina Havelock, played by Carol Boquet. In reality, Caroline, along with around 10 other actresses, played one of the girls in the background at the pool inside Loque’s mansion.
From Barry to Caroline:
Barry Cossey was born in the village of Brooke, Norfolk county, England, and was raised as a boy. Cossey was already somewhat feminine due to a condition known as Klinefelter’s syndrome; however, instead of having XXY chromosomes like most with this condition, Cossey is XXXY. He never got along with boys growing up, his closest companion was his sister, Pam, with whom they would play at dressing in their mother’s clothes.
Barry Kenneth Cossey
At the age of 17, Cossey started hormone therapy and began living as a woman full time. Soon after beginning transition, Cossey began a career as a showgirl and, after breast augmentation surgery, a topless dancer, working in nightclubs in London, Paris and Rome. After initial shock, Cossey’s parents were supportive. After years of hormonal and psychological treatment, and legally changing her name, Cossey had sex reassignment surgery on December 31, 1974 at Charing Cross Hospital in London.
Post-op, Caroline’s career took off. No longer a topless burlesque dancer, she became a highly sought-after glamour model and commercials actress, in an age when her lanky, other-worldly looks were the height of fashion. Caroline even posed in Playboy Magazine in 1981. However, all of this attention would pale in comparison to when she was cast as an extra in 1981’s For Your Eyes Only, finally fulfilling her childhood dream of being a Bond girl.
A Double-0 Scandal:
Shortly after the film’s release, in 1982, the tabloid News of the World did what it had been threatening to do for quite a while and revealed that Cossey was a transsexual, which brought her modeling career and hopes of becoming an actress to a halt.
She was in deep despair, but decided to fight it head on. In 1982, Cossey responded by releasing I Am a Woman, her first autobiography, which sought in straightforward terms to defuse the situation by telling the story in full, from her point of view. If anything, the press coverage intensified, but now it was largely sympathetic. Eventually, Tula was able to return to modeling. But a career on a bigger stage was now irretrievably gone.
Life After 007:
Eventually, Tula was able to pick up the threads of her life. A romance followed with an Italian Count who knew her story in full before meeting her (a first). They fell in love and he proposed. However, British law regards gender reassignment as merely a cosmetic procedure, and the changes in legal status allowed are cosmetic. Caroline was allowed to be called female on her passport, and that was about it. To all intents and purposes, in the eye of the law, she was and is still male. It says so on her birth certificate. It is illegal for her to use a women’s lavatory. If she were convicted of a crime, she would go to a men’s jail. Obviously, she was not allowed to marry another man.
Again, Caroline would not take this lying down. In 1983, she began legal proceedings against the British government to get the legal status of transsexuals changed. The process was to drag on for seven years and go through successively higher levels of the judiciary until it reached the European High Courts in Strasbourg in 1989.
During this period, she campaigned tirelessly for transsexuals’ rights, appearing countless times in the media. Her ties with the Count suffered and they separated. In 1985, she met Elias Fattal, a Jewish businessman. A professional relationship soon became personal, and in 1988, they were engaged.
On May 21, 1989, Caroline and Elias married, at a synagogue in St. John’s Wood, London. The European High Court had ruled in her favor a fortnight before, so she was now legally allowed to marry, although the government had immediately lodged an appeal, scheduled for the subsequent year. On their return from a blissful honeymoon in the Caribbean, Caroline discovered once again that what fortune and commitment create can be dashed in a day by the tabloid news.
The News of the World had done it again. Elias’ family were orthodox Jews, and immediately summoned him to account for his marriage to Caroline. Soon, she had lost him back to his family. Now she received death threats. Her car was sabotaged. At the lowest ebb of her life, she again attempted to cope by writing, publishing her second book, My Story, in 1990. Again, she was in the public eye as the British government’s appeal against the Strasbourg ruling came to court. This time, the court found in the government’s favor.
Caroline has since returned to modeling, and has continued her fight against the system and society that has treated her and those like her so shabbily. Cossey also married again in 1992 to Canadian David Finch. The couple is still married and living in Kennesaw, Georgia, just outside Atlanta.
- 10 Hottest Bond Girls (mademan.com)
- New Couple? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Bold crossings of the gender line (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
Posted by: Conrado Garcia Jamin