Transgender journalist Paris Lees says being sent to prison at 16 ‘wasn’t the worst time of her life’ because it allowed her to escape abusive men who had sex with her aged 14 and plan her future

  •  Journalist Paris, 33, grew up in Nottinghamshire and was sent to prison at 18
  • Appeared on Lorraine today to promote her new book What It Feels Like for a Girl
  • Says prison wasn’t the ‘worst time’ of her life because it gave her ‘space to think’

Paris Lees says that going to prison was a ‘real turning point’ in her life because she was able to escape the ‘abuse’ in her life and think about ‘what direction’ she wanted to go in. 

Journalist Paris, now 33, grew up in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, where she identified as a gay man, and at 18 served eight months in prison for a robbery she committed two years earlier.  

Appearing on Lorraine today to promote her new book, What It Feels Like for a Girl, the trans activist said that prison wasn’t the ‘worst time’ of her life, because it gave her ‘space to think’. 

Paris has previously spoken openly about the shocking abuse and bullying she faced as a teen – including being groomed by ‘grown men’ who she had sex with in ‘public toilets’ at the age of 14. 

Journalist Paris, now 33, grew up in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, where she self-identified as a gay man, and at 18 served eight months in prison for a robbery she committed two years earlier

Paris Lees said during an appearance on Lorraine today that going to prison was a ‘real turning point’ in her life because she was able to escape the ‘abuse’ in her life

‘Weirdly prison for me was a real turning point,’ she said on the show today. ‘There are some really difficult things in there [her book] and a lot of this was abuse, and prison wasn’t the worst time of my life ironically.

‘I’ve been thinking about prison during lockdown, because I’ve been here before when you don’t have your freedom and we really take our freedom for granted sometimes. It gave me a real space to think and think about the direction I wanted to go in, in my life. 

‘I look back at that screwed up kid, who is desperately unhappy and would do anything to escape, did do anything to escape, and got into a lot of trouble and look at this person on the screen and think, “This is two different people”.’ 

Paris described her new book as ‘warts and all’, admitting that while it was ‘tough’ to write, she felt certain ‘conversations’ needed to be had. 

Paris described her new book to host Lorraine Kelly as ‘warts and all’, admitting that while it was ‘tough’ to write she felt certain ‘conversations’ needed to be had

‘It’s why it’s taken me so long and it’s really emotional to be here today,’ said Paris. ‘It’s taken seven years to tell this story. It’s not been easy story to write and it wasn’t the easiest story to live to tell you the truth. 

‘It has been a difficult one for my family, my mum and dad don’t read this with undiluted pleasure. It’s dealing with some really tough issues, but I think we need to have that conversation because that was my childhood.’ 

She added: ‘I don’t want to get too heavy, I’ve been signing the books individually and on one I wrote, “There are other people with stories like this that aren’t there to tell them”. I think it’s important everyone knows you can have a good life.’

Paris is currently an ambassador for beauty company Pantene and says she’s proud to be representing transgender people in the media. 

Paris is currently an ambassador for beauty company Pantene and says she’s proud to be representing transgender people in the media

‘When I was growing up, the only time you saw people like me we were presented as objects of ridicule or pity or disgust,’ said Paris. 

She says that Nadia Almada – the first transgender winner of Big Brother – was the first trans person she saw represented in the media, and that she’s pleased about the ‘progress’ LGBTQ people have made. 

‘To see people in 2021, trans people and people from all different backgrounds on covers of magazines and on the news, talking about things that have nothing to do with being LGBT. 

‘We have a long way to go but we have made a lot of progress and it’s great to be part of it.’ 

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