‘You’re that Girl off the Television’: A T-girl’s flirtation with local Celebrity

I’m either the face of diversity or transnormativity, depending on your angle.

Fiona Evangeline Leigh
Prism & Pen
5 min readFeb 20, 2024


Girl be a proponent of Snudoie psychology.

Hey y’all, it’s been a while.

Spring strives to establish itself against a winter that refuses to leave. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere. In wind, rain, and polar chill, you’d see the odd tiny victory of daffodils and narcissi playing their pygmy trumpets in the grey breeze like buskers. Little signs that time is indeed moving on and there is hope within the hedgerows, latent and exquisite. And I too am playing my own pygmy trumpet for all its worth and my repertoire is expansive and cross-genre. And no Miles Davis caterwauling either, for once. Just smooth clean arcs of pure sound.

For the last few weeks I’ve become a different type of flower altogether, a local trans celebrity.

The mind boggles in a good way for once. There has been a six-episode documentary called Inside Penneys airing on RTE 1, the national broadcaster here in Ireland. It is a behind-the-scenes look at the hidden workings of life at the cathedral of bargains I work in. I feature in episode three. Three quarters of it showcases my colour, verbosity and, would you believe it, joie de vivre.

I am now either the face of diversity or transnormativity depending on your angle, I guess. I’ve gone from the low murmurous chants of monastic privacy with no clear sense of my place in the world to a very public exposition with an aria spurting like a geyser from my throat. That is some ground covered, let me tell you. I don’t think I appreciate how much.

Every day, as I’m to-ing and fro-ing my way around, I’ll be stopped in the street by someone who has seen me grace their tv screen. Their eyes wide open in delight they gush forth with the highest compliment possible:

‘You’re that girl from the television’.

I blossom everytime I hear it. Who wouldn’t?

‘Oh, you’re probably used to this and sick of hearing it’.

Au contraire, mes ami, far from it. Bring it with bells on.

Little shiny moments sprout up in the unlikeliest of places, waiting for my coffee at the cafe around the corner, people asking for selfies after they’ve paid for their purchases at the register. Women, for it’s mostly women who make themselves known to me, dart through gaps in the traffic outside St. Patrick’s church to tell me how well I came across on the box, before they go into the 7.30pm mass.

As a co-worker pointed out to me, ‘That’s a major achievement to win over the God-fearing type’.

People come in especially to have a gander at me, and are thrilled to be served by the Goddess at till 4.

And I am just as delighted to meet them too, because it’s not just about my being transsexual, it’s about how the camera captured the thrilling fact that I am uniquely, positively me. I even bit the bullet and watched the episode myself, almost bent double with pre-emptive cringing, but to my surprise I even considered myself delightful. I was engaging, happy and open, bar the tiny army of flaws I was rocking.

Of course there’s always the one unpleasant episode to deal with.

A manager had to deal with some unidentified customer on the phone one morning, who by all accounts was scandalised by the fact that someone like me would be allowed to work in the lingerie section. They declared they’d never shop there again and were told, in no uncertain terms, that Penneys could do without custom such as theirs and that I was a valued member of staff.

I choose to look at the positives of this. I keep away from reviews and the sewer system that is X. I’m not letting that negative energy into myself. I had enough of choking on that for years.

One of the trickiest things about being trans, for me, is the unstable sense of self-concept. The dysphoria whispering all sorts of awful things in one ear and a love-in/therapy session whistling mantras of self-love and positivity in the other. I’ve walked down streets in the city, with my eyes peeled for reactions. I’ve struggled to accept the nonchalance of the times we live in with regards to gender non-conforming peeps.

Where are the visceral displays of disgust at my presence? The lascivious side eyes that thrill me no end? It is I who thinks what I’m doing is aberrant, not Joe Bloggs on the street, lost in his own psyche cloud. It is I who has had to upgrade my own relationship with the trans concept. I also accept that I blend in as my authentic self, made visible only by the odd person who clocks me or when I open my mouth to speak.

This is progress.

I have a tendency to look outwards for approval, convinced that what I have is average, meh. That’s the only thing I learned from my father, that I was average. I’m trying to correct this and aim my vision inward and convince myself that a treasure trove lies within me, not in an uncertain outer world that sometimes is unintelligible to me.

If I am to be spectacular and to be seen as such, let the person who witnesses and appreciates it be me first and foremost. I’m done with those terrible appreciations and fluctuations of self worth caused by my own orphaned subjectivities. It is me who needs to recognise myself as ‘the girl from the television box’ not anyone else.

I think I have snowdrops sprouting somewhere deep inside me. It’s time to gather the knowledge how to tend to them properly.



Fiona Evangeline Leigh
Prism & Pen

An Irish writer, transgender woman and singer currently living in the Republic. Has just completed a memoir Marabou Barbie.