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“A story of transition, transformation, and transcendence”: Local author Jennifer Hodgetts launches first book

Jennifer Hodgetts

Local author Jennifer Hodgetts is publishing her first Book ‘Lady in Waiting: A Tale of Transition’ at a book launch and signing at The Book Keeper, July 7, beginning at 2 p.m.

“Much of what happens to the central character is taken directly out of my life,” Hodgetts told The Journal. “I put a lot of my own experiences into the book. It was just a story I felt I had to tell.”

Lady in Waiting’ is a work of fiction following the life of a transgender woman and is closely based on Hodgetts’ own experiences. Hodgetts describes the book as “a story of love, longing, denial, disillusionment, despair, and ultimately, acceptance and joy. 

“It is a story of transition, transformation, and transcendence.”

According to Child Mind Institute, a non-profit focused on children’s mental health, children are aware of their gender identity by age two or three. So like most transgender people, even as a very young child, Hodgetts knew herself to be a woman.

“I wanted to be a girl and on the extremely rare occasions I could, I would cross-dress,” she said. “When I was 12 or 13 trying on my mothers clothes when nobody was around, it was always hidden away.” 

“If I'd been discovered then, I’d be whipped off to the Irish priests, to my good Catholic family doctor, to a psychologist or psychiatrist and would have been attacked with conversion therapy, so fortunately I learned I had to hide it all,” she said.

Human Rights Campaign lists conversion or reparative therapy a dangerous practice that targets LGBTQ youth and people, aiming to change their sexual or gender identities. The practice of conversion therapy has been illegal in Canada since 2021.

Born in the 1940’s on the Isle of Man and brought to England at just eight months old, Hodgetts would go on to study Medicine at Leeds University, eventually graduating as a Doctor of Medicine.

“In university, I was already struggling with who I was, although I didn’t even realize that,” said Hodgetts. “I was trying to be the man I’d been told I was, and to live as a man. The opportunity to even cross-dress all through university was nil.”

After graduating university, getting married and starting a young family, Hodgetts, then a young physician, immigrated to Canada, eventually settling in at a family practice in Petrolia in 1979. Hodgetts would continue that family practice until retirement, more than four decades later.

“My wife…had a major heart attack in 2016 and never fully recovered,” said Hodgetts. “After she died, my youngest daughter said to me, ‘what is troubling you?’ And it just flowed out like a hot candle.”

In the months that followed, Hodgetts would go on to share her truth with her three other children, and her grandchildren – all of whom are loving and supportive of her. 

“I’m totally accepted,” she said.

“I was compelled by the circumstances of my life to live as a male. I feel that I lived behind a kind of facade. I suppressed my femininity. I notice differences between my life before and life now. I’m subconsciously more aware of the beauty in the world,” Hodgetts continued. “I’m just sitting here looking at a bunch of flowers my son brought me… beautiful pink roses – I allow myself to enjoy them now. I sort of unconsciously didn’t allow myself to do that before.”

“It’s liberating,” she continued. “I'm much more free now to be me and be open, instead of having to hide and suppress it all, which is what I had to do before.”

Hodgetts hopes cisgender people who read her book will understand trangender people better, and for transgender people reading ‘Lady in Waiting,’ “maybe they will start to feel they are not alone,” she said.

“I was always told in school by my English teachers that I should write a book; they liked my essays. Well it’s taken me around 80 years to do that!” she said through laughter. 

Click here for event details on ‘The lady in Waiting: a Tale of Transition’ book launch at The Book Keeper. 


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