I lived as a gay woman

I lived as a gay woman
up until my early 20s.

In my final year at uni, when I was
about 22, I started binding my chest.

It was strange, as I still didn't know
I wanted to be male.

I still didn't know I was trans.

I just knew I was different,
that my body didn't fit.

And then I really hit rock bottom.

I knew that what I was doing wasn't
right. It didn't make sense for me,

and after a lot of thinking

I realised that what was really going on
was that I was trans, I felt like a guy.

It was a really mixed feeling.

Extreme relief that I finally knew what
was wrong, what was happening to me,

but it was also quite traumatising,

because I thought I'd have to move
into this space

where I'd be rejected by everyone

and that my life would essentially
be over.

But I felt that was my only option.

That was who I was
and I had to start that process.

I initially spoke to my GP,

who was unhelpful and so I changed GPs
to one who wasn't prejudiced,

which was good and he was great.

He was really, really helpful.
He spoke to the PCT.

They advised him
that I needed to see a psychiatrist.

And I was really fortunate.

There was a psychiatrist there
who'd worked in a gender clinic

who had awareness of the issues
and was really supportive.

That was where I started to feel
it might actually be OK.

That it wouldn't mean the end of
everything. It was more the beginning.

I met my partner about a year
before I started hormones.

She talked to me as male, assumed I was
male, even though I looked quite female.

And there were no problems. It was
nice to meet somebody who could do that.

When I first met him he was trans,
but he hadn't started transition yet.

And my only fear, I suppose,
with the relationship when it started

was that I'm straight.

And obviously for an outsider looking
in, it looked like we were a gay couple.

But I'd never seen him
as anything other than male.

We'll go climbing next weekend.

Hormone therapy was interesting. I had a
huge amount of testosterone in my body,

so there was only one thing on my mind.

Luckily, that does tail off over time
and I can think about other things now,

which is helpful. My periods stopped
more or less after the first shot.

I was lucky.
With some people it takes longer.

My voice started to break
after about a month.

It took a good year and a half
for it to properly settle down.

My body shape completely changed.

Whereas I'd had an hourglass figure
before, I'm much more straight down now.

And it was really quite sudden.

I looked in the mirror one day thinking,
"Where have my hips and thighs gone?"

and realised they were round my stomach.

I could occasionally pass as male

if people couldn't see I had breasts.

I knew I did not want
to have breasts at all.

That was the biggest thing for me.

So for me one of my main priorities
was to have a mastectomy.

The first time I came back from hospital

and walked past the window topless
without going like that was fantastic.

It was great. It's been one of the most
amazing things I've had done.

There are lots of reasons why people
decide to have genital surgery or not.

In some ways I think
I would like to do it,

just because I would like to experience
what that feels like.

But for me and for some guys I know,

being a man isn't necessarily
about having a penis.

I don't have to do that
in order to see myself as male.

I see myself as male. I see myself
as a transmale particularly, anyway.

(Lani) Now we've got
over this transition

and Jay is who he wants to be,

our relationship is like any normal
relationship.

We're planning to get married next year

and then we're going to go down
the IVF route and have some children,

so now that all that pressure is off,
we've gone into a normal relationship

and are doing what any normal couple
would do.

It's only a part of my life.

It was the main thing for a couple
of years while I was transitioning,

going through that process,
but now it's just a part of who I am.

There are so many more parts to me.
My job and my relationships,

my hobbies and my social life,
and that I'm trans.