Meet the trailblazing transgender Bond girl and Playboy model who fought tirelessly for equal rights
When LGBT+ pioneers are discussed, a number of famous faces probably spring to mind. However, one person you may not immediately think of is Caroline Cossey – also known as Tula – a Bond girl, dancer and top model who took the British government to the European Court of Human Rights in the ’90s in a bid to change discriminatory UK laws.
Defunct tabloid the News of the World outed her as trans in 1981 after she featured in the Bond film For Your Eyes Only.
Up until that point, the career that had led to her Bond appearance had been a successful and lucrative one. When she was 17 she left home and became an usher at a West End theatre, where a choreographer spotted her and asked if she wanted to become a showgirl.
When she told him she was hadn’t yet had gender reassignment surgery, he was unfazed and told her he should go for it anyway. She plucked up the courage to go to the audition and was soon working in Paris, then Rome. She used the money she made as a dancer to fund her surgery, before going on to forge a career as an international supermodel.
In 1978, after securing a part on the TV game show 3-2-1, a tabloid journalist contacted her to tell her he had discovered she was trans and was planning to write about it. She dropped out of the show. In 1981, she was cast as an extra in For Your Eyes Only, and shortly after that the News of the World publicly outed her, splashing the headline “James Bond’s Girl Was A Boy”.
In her first autobiography I Am a Woman, written to take back control of her own narrative, she wrote:
“There, I thought, went all my hopes of leading a normal life. I was hounded by journalists everywhere I went, and their lack of understanding – the kinds of ignorant questions they asked – made me determined to tell my side of the story.”
In a later interview with Cosmopolitan, she said that she’d attempted suicide after the traumatic incident.