Wednesday, July 25, 2007
You remember James Harries. He was the strange boy who wore bow ties and pretended to be an antiques dealer. Now 23, after a sex change, 'Lauren' talks about her plans for a chat show
By Julia Stuart
Published: 13 April 2001
At the age of 12, James Harries was hailed as an antiques expert. He claimed to have a rare talent for sniffing out pieces of rare china among jumble sale tat. With his Edwardian-style miniature velvet suits, bow ties and shock of blond curls, he was the Little Lord Fauntleroy who perched on Wogan's settee, and advised the nation how to spot a bargain. Television clips showed him sitting in the back of a Rolls-Royce conducting business in his queer, high voice on a mobile phone, his legs too short to reach the floor. If anyone was going to make it in life, surely it would be the curious genius James Harries.
Now 23, the taste for period clothes remains, but today, rather than a suit, James is dressed in an Edwardian-style white embroidered nightie. For the one-time child entrepreneur is lying on a hospital bed after undergoing a sex-change operation. It's no longer James, it's Lauren.
She is quick to point out that "angelic" isn't her only look. "I've got a little slinky black number in there, you know, with pants to go with it," she says, pointing to the wardrobe with a pink polished finger nail. "I can wear pink, kitten heels with it and look very sexy. If I'd worn it I would have looked like a very slim, attractive model. The thing is, you can look angelic and you can look sexy as well."
Lauren's voice has deepened since her days as a child star, though she still can't pronounce her Rs. While her voice is now unremarkable, her appearance is certainly still striking. Tall and skinny, the once blond, frizzy curls have turned mouse. She dyes them blonde, and her hair hangs in butter-coloured clumps around her face. "It's ringlets now," she says, shaking her head. "I love my hair."
Above her top lip is a slight hint of stubble. One day, when she can afford it, she intends to have surgery on her Adam's apple, and maybe even breast implants if the hormones she is taking don't noticeably increase the size of her chest.
To Lauren, the surgery represents an end to the name-calling and the innuendos, and hopefully the start of being accepted by society. At school she was called a "wimp" and a "queer boy". As a teenager she was rejected by the gay scene as too effeminate, and women didn't seem to want to know.
"I didn't like the gay scene, and I wasn't gay anyway. I'm still a virgin and I haven't even kissed a man," says Lauren, who lives in Cardiff with her parents and two brothers. "I went to the clubs but I was looked upon as a little girl, not a man at all.
"Women assumed I was gay. When you're a man and you're scatty, flaky, and forget things and drop things, you look like Mr Bean. They didn't take me seriously. . . .
by Laura Wright, South Wales Echo
CELEBRITY transsexual Lauren Harries is unveiling an extra layer in an in-depth documentary to be screened next week.
The eccentric 29-year-old from Cardiff will bare all in a frank and open insight into her life in the hope that it will help her to be better understood.
Lauren found fame when she was just 10 years old as James Harries, the curly-haired, bow-tied child antiques “expert”.
The revealing documentary Where Are They Now? was filmed in one busy day by North Wales company Chwarel TV.
It will track the many changes that Lauren has experienced in the last two decades, from finding fame with Terry Wogan to having a sex-change operation six years ago. Lauren, of Rumney, Cardiff, said: “I’m completely honest. I go as personal as it takes. I’m always straight from the hip, if I’m asked a question, I’ll answer it.
“Nobody knows me properly, nobody understands what I have been through. This is my opportunity to show people me as a woman and as a person. It’s something people need to see.
“I hope they’ll learn I was a boy that turned into a butterfly.”
Lauren is now writing her life story and hopes the documentary will reach out to others. She said: “In the television industry they always want someone who’s safe and easy. When you’re a transsexual they don’t know what to do with you. . . .
A woman seeking a tax write-off for her sex-change operation told the opening session of a potentially precedent-setting trial on Tuesday that the procedure was not just cosmetic but had made her whole.
Rhiannon O'Donnabhain is challenging a decision by U.S. tax authorities not to allow the $25,000 cost of her 2001 sex-change and breast augmentation surgeries as a tax deduction. The Internal Revenue Service calls the procedures elective and cosmetic, and ineligible for a tax break.
If the U.S. Tax Court in Boston overturns the IRS's decision, it could have big implications for transsexuals and other transgender people by setting a precedent for those who want to write off the high cost of sex-change operations.
"If I didn't have the surgery, I would have been on drugs or an alcoholic, or I would kill myself. There was no other way," O'Donnabhain, 63, told the court.
"I needed it to be complete ... females don't have male genitals and I was a female. The only way for me to be the real person I was in my mind was to have the surgery," she said.
In opening arguments for the IRS, Associate Area Counsel Maureen O'Brien said the gender-change surgery was not medically necessary.
"The surgery was the petitioner's choice, so it was a personal expense," O'Brien said. "The petitioner's breast augmentation as a result of breast implants was clearly cosmetic, the petitioner already had breast development as a result of hormone therapy."
Walter Meyer, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Medical Branch and an expert in the field of gender identity disorder, told Reuters that in 2006 such disorders affected about one in 10,000 people. . . .