Dry Your Eyes, Princess’: gender variance in the British Armed Forces

This first and only known research project on trans veterans in the world sought to understand how gender variance was understood by the Armed Forces after 1945 and those who served in them.

Emma Vickers’ oral history research with trans veterans of the British Army, Air Force and Royal Navy raises awareness of trans veterans via exhibitions and arts festivals.

Impacts on Liverpool City Region

The Liverpool Museum (MoL) has exhibited the work, as did the Homotopia queer arts festival, and this has contributed to a greater sense of belonging for trans veterans and the wider trans community living in the region, while reinforcing the commitment of National Museums Liverpool to programming LGBTQ content.

The exhibition also gave Liverpool Central Library and archive the impetus to hold their own exhibition of trans lives in Liverpool (jointly curated by Vickers) in the summer of 2019.

The photography project had an unprecedented impact on the general public and the trans community in the UK with regard to consciousness-raising, and Vickers' research has illuminated the historically divergent relationship between military law and its approach to gender.

“How pleased and encouraged I am to see the exhibition…Having served… to the rank of lieutenant colonel, and since transitioned, I can empathise with your interviewees. Thank you for enabling such work” - Named trans veteran.

LJMU Academics

Dr Emma Vickers

Download a PDF version of this case study