‘Nothing has ever sorted my life out quite like changing gender’

“On my 35th birthday I realised that I’d spent half my life as the wrong gender. I put on my frock and said, ‘To hell with everybody – I’m changing!’

The surgery itself consists of a vaginioplasty and a cliteroplasty. I have the deepest admiration for the surgeons who operated on me. They did a bloody good job. They preserved the nerves and left a little bit of erectile tissue to form the clitoris with. It takes about two years for all the nerve endings to start behaving normally again. And then I thought ‘Yes! I’m back!’

I haven’t had anything done to my tits – they are all me! They are a lot more sensitive than silicone ones friends have had. But the nipples have nothing like the same sensitivity. And they put a couple of stitches in at the top of my voice box, to raise the pitch of my voice a little bit. But I think I’ve got the most horrible voice in the world! I’ve sent several speech therapists running away screaming!

I was born in South East London, which is where I went to school until I was 10. But then I was sent to a special school – a school for emotionally disturbed and maladjusted boys. It was a really horrible time – I didn’t like being a kid. I hated being a teenager and I was glad when I left school at 17 and started an apprenticeship in electronics. The school I went to was a pretty harsh one. It was an all boys school and any sign of femininity would make your life hell. My life was pretty hellish, anyway.

When it came to relationships, I tried both men and women, but it never worked. Nothing puts a gay guy off as much as realising that he’s been to bed with a woman!

My parents found it difficult. They come from a generation where people never spoke about sexual problems. My mother died before my operation, so she never knew me as a woman.

My brother has always been great. I remember when I first told him I’d been going out to gay clubs, and cross-dressing and he said: ‘I’ve got a friend who’s planning on dragging me around gay clubs. Do you want to come?’

My sister came to visit me when I was wearing a very nice green dress, and looking very pretty. She stormed off back to the car, saying, ‘I’m not being seen with you like that!’

She’s OK now. I call around there occasionally and say hi. I’ve got a little nephew. Kids don’t give a damn!

The hormones changed the way I feel. I immediately began to feel a hell of a lot less f****d up. Some people say I can’t park a car as well as I used to, but I think they’re just being cheeky.

At the beginning of each academic year, one or two of the first years try to pass comment, or wolf whistle, but they quickly give up. I don’t often get problems – that’s part of being over six feet tall! There is always the odd person who is going to be rude, but what the hell?

Now I have a very happy life. I’ve got a regular boyfriend. Nothing has ever sorted my life out quite like changing gender. I wouldn’t be anything else!”

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