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  1. ITV Report

"I do feel very fortunate" - Wiltshire teacher accepted back to school after transitioning from male to female

Maddie has been a teacher in Bradford-on-Avon for more than thirty years. Credit: ITV News West Country

For more than 30 years, children in Bradford-on-Avon had their English lessons taught by Mr James.

But at the end of 2016, pupils and parents at St Laurence School were told that Ms James would be teaching them after Christmas.

Two and a half years after going public with her transition, Maddie James has told ITV News she has never felt so fortunate to be accepted as a transgender woman.

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  • Read more: Information on transgender support groups in the West Country.
It took many decades for Maddie to admit to herself she wasn't happy living as a man. Credit: Family photo

I went through three or four bouts of depression and anxiety and I needed the medication to get me through. But at that point I hadn't fully admitted to myself what was wrong with me and where the mismatch was.

– Maddie James
Maddie says she's extremely proud of those at St Laurence for how accepting they have been. Credit: ITV News West Country

It's certainly not anything I had ever come across in my career before. It's not something that your preparation to be head teacher covers. As teachers we are always conscious that we are on view. I was really nervous for her and how we were going to negotiate this.

– Fergus Stewart, Head St Laurence School

After the challenge of telling her family, Maddie felt confident to work with Head Teacher Fergus Stewart to come up with a plan for how they would tell staff, students and parents.

On the day the news of Maddie's transition went public, the English teacher says she could not have had a better reception from the school.

They listened very respectfully, then one of the leaders of the group, a [Year 11] boy, sat up and said:

"Well if that's what you think is necessary for you then go ahead and do it."

I just thought this is tremendous that they've been able to take something that must be very odd to have Mr James saying this.

– Maddie James

Although the process has been an overwhelmingly positive experience, there are some who have worked with Maddie for many years and found the transition at times uncomfortable.

However Maddie hopes her story will encourage others who may be in a similar situation to feel confident about going public.