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I wanted to be a boy, says Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge

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Anna Brech
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Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge says she desperately wanted to be a boy as a child – and would have seized the opportunity to explore that urge further

Phoebe Waller-Bridge has revealed that she desperately wanted to be a boy when she was younger, and would have considered becoming transgender had that option been open to her.

In an interview with America’s NPR radio this weekend, the Fleabag and Killing Eve creator says she shaved off her hair when she was about six and started wearing boys’ clothing, as she insisted that her parents called her “Alex”.

“I just thought [boys] just had more fun. I just wanted to be out climbing the trees and wearing comfortable clothes,” Waller-Bridge recalls. “[…] And a lot of my friends were really into the dresses and the dolls and all that kind of stuff; it just wasn’t my bag and it just seemed like you had to choose one or the other at that time.”

“I remember going into Gap once when I was about seven and the guy coming up to me when I was with my mum and he said, ‘So what does the young man want?’” she adds. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, convinced.’”

The actor and scriptwriter says she was “fervent” about identifying as a boy: “It was like I just desperately wanted to be a boy more than anything else. If it had been taken seriously by my school or something or those options had been given to me, I probably would’ve jumped at it.”

Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the hit TV series Fleabag
Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the hit TV series Fleabag

Waller-Bridge says she eventually came to a “crossover point” when she was about 11, and started asking people to call her Phoebe again.

“I went to a boarding school for a year and a half, two years,” she says. “I wasn’t thinking about either being a boy or being a girl. But then I discovered boys in a big way. And one in particular — I remember meeting a boy and then suddenly becoming really aware that I looked sort of boyish myself and that he probably didn’t like that. And that was the kind of crossover point.”

The writer’s hit series Killing Eve and Fleabag swept the board recently, at the 2019 TV Baftas.

One of Britain’s most exciting talents of the moment is now co-writing the script for the next Bond film, a gig that promises to bring with it a generous helping of her fierce feminist humour.

Images: Getty

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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