For Your Eyes Only, the 12th entry in the James Bond series of films premiered in June 1981. In the film, British model Caroline “Tula” Cossey made her uncredited Bond girl debut as “Girl At Pool.” To promote the film, Tula participated in photo spread with Roger Moore and the rest of the ladies in the pages of Playboy magazine. And shortly thereafter, Tula’s life was instantly changed when the British tabloid News Of The World outed her as transgender.
Born Barry Cossey, Tula completed transition in 1974 and became known at the time of the film’s release in 1981 as the “transsexual Bond girl.” This being a time where the public did not necessarily understand what being transgender was all about, Tula decided to tell the world her story in two memoirs and in September 1991 became the first trans woman to appear in the pages of the men’s magazine in her own photo spread.
Playboy recently caught up with the now 60-year-old Cossey in suburban Atlanta for her first interview in 20 years. The interview covers a range of topics from her retirement (“My career had definitely taken a turn. I was being offered only trans roles on shows like Hill Street Blues. I thought, No, that’s not right.”) Buying a gun as a transgender person (“I imagined them saying, “Do we want someone like that running around with a gun?” But it came through, and now I have to renew it every five years.”) as well as Bruce Jenner’s transistion to Caitlyn.
It was a bit of a shock, to say the least. He’s been such an incredible athlete and hero, with all those raging male hormones running through his body. Despite the media buildup, I actually forgot Diane Sawyer’s interview was airing. But I saw clips in the days after. The guy is obviously going through a lot of pain and suffering. I hope he finds his happiness, but it’s going to be tough. I hope he’s not in a hurry to get surgery. Sawyer never asked him, “Does wearing women’s clothes turn you on sexually?” That’s what somebody needs to establish. It’s actually the first thing a psychiatrist asked me in counseling. That would be a fetish, and there’s nothing wrong with having a fetish. Life’s too short; enjoy it, whatever. But I would hate for him to lose his three-piece suite and live to regret it.
Tula also expounds on the differences between a transvestite and someone who’s transgender and has kind words to say about Hugh Hefner. As she puts it, “He looked into my eyes and I immediately knew he felt my story. He felt my cause.”
Tula’s 1991 memoir is now available as an e-book.