REAL LIFE: '˜Since I transitioned, life is brilliant'
It's hard to imagine what it must be like waking up every day feeling you were born in the wrong body.
But that’s exactly what life is like for people who are transgender .
And 64-year-old Katie Yeomans is one of those who made the biggest decision of her life to become a woman, having been born a man.
Earlier this year, Katie underwent surgery and is now female, four years after starting her transition.
She hopes to encourage and inspire others in a similar position to her.
But what led to her making such a life-changing decision?
‘It all started back in 2014. I previously identified as a gay male,’ she says.
‘I went to a fancy dress party, wearing a dress.
‘I’d never worn a dress before. I didn’t really have any thoughts about being transgender.
‘But I went to this party and had a really good evening.
‘For several weeks after that I started to think about how comfortable I felt, not just because I was in a dress but because of my femininity.’
Katie, who was David at the time, went to see her GP and was referred to a gender clinic in Exeter.
She went on to have psychological assessments to test her state of mind and make sure that she was going down the right road.
By that point, she had ditched all her male clothes and had begun to dress as a woman.
She was prescribed hormone treatment which she began to take straight away. They enhanced her breasts and gave her body more of a female shape.
She continued to have appointments and assessments at the clinic until December last year when she was finally given a date for surgery.
The operation took place in April this year at a hospital in Brighton.
Katie said she can’t speak highly enough of the treatment and care she received at the hospital.
She says: ‘I was quite overwhelmed. From the day I arrived to the day I left, I was treated with dignity and respect.
‘All the staff were really kind and understanding.’
The operation, which involved cosmetic surgery, lasted five hours and she then spent a week in hospital.
Once she was released, she spent two weeks at home in Netley Road, Southsea, where she was unable to leave the house in case she picked up any infections.
‘The people I know in Southsea were extremely supportive,’ she adds.
‘People were doing my shopping for me and my friend looked after my dog for three weeks because I wasn’t able to.
‘I have found that they are just nice people – they don’t make judgments.
‘I consider myself to be quite lucky because a lot of transgender people can’t step out of their front door without getting harassed or assaulted.
‘Having the surgery was the final icing on the cake regarding my transition. It was to make me feel more complete as a woman.
‘I didn’t do it for sexual purposes. I’m not in a relationship. If I do get into a relationship, whoever I am with will have to accept me as I am.
‘Now, I feel more complete and extremely happy. This summer has been amazing. It’s been a really good year.
‘I was transgender for years and I didn’t realise. Going out that night to that party was a turning point in my life.
‘I had the support of a lot of family and friends. I do get quite a lot of compliments when I go out.
‘The only time I wear jeans is when I go out first thing in the morning to take the dog for a walk. The rest of the time I wear dresses or skirts because it embraces my femininity.’
Last year, Katie received her gender recognition certificate along with a new birth certificate, which confirms that she is now registered as a female. She has also had her passport and driving licence changed.
‘It gives me legal recognition as a female,’ she says.
‘I had to go before a gender recognition panel . You have to prove to them it is a serious thing and you have to have been living as a female for a year.’
Katie has two older sisters who live in the Midlands.
‘One of them is really down to earth’, she says.
‘She knew something was going on but didn’t realise what it was. But she said it was fine and she was there to support me and she has done since day one.
‘My other sister was a bit more distant. But now I get cards from both of them, addressing me as their sister. They are both fully supportive.
‘I have always accepted some people don’t agree and don’t understand and that’s fine. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
‘As far as my family were concerned, if they had said they were going to disown me, I would have been really upset but I would have carried on because it was what I knew I was going to be comfortable and happy with.’
By speaking out Katie Yeomans is hoping to raise awareness about being transgender to make people more understanding of it.
She says: ‘I want to empower other LGBT people to be proud of who they are and not to suffer in silence.
‘They are discriminated against and suffer hate crime.
‘I encourage people to report it.
‘I know I’m only one person but there must be many more people like me.
‘You can be happy being transgender and you can go out and live a normal life.
‘I’m quite a sociable person. I get asked all the time what it’s like to be transgender. I do that to help non-LGBT people to understand what it’s like.
‘It’s not just about being a bloke in a dress.
‘I have noticed in the last couple of years that the community in general are very accepting.
‘As David, I was miserable and unhappy. ‘Since I have transitioned my life is brilliant.’
There are a number of organisations to turn to for support if you are transgender. Here are just some of them:
To see a video of Katie, go to portsmouth.co.uk.