Laila Holmes from Fareham came out as trans when she was around 16. At the time she had just started her A-levels at St Vincent College in Gosport but quickly grew anxious about going out because she was worried about how people would perceive her.
After seeking medical help for her transition she was put on a waiting list for a consultation with a gender clinic in Northamptonshire for more than two years and in that time her anxiety grew worse, leading to her having to drop out of college and virtually never venturing outside until last year. She also became depressed in this time and was prescribed medication.
The 22-year-old told The News: ‘I didn’t really leave the house for two years because I didn’t want people looking at me.
‘I fell into a hole of depression.
‘I was a good student in school and was studying physics, maths and psychology at college but I had to give it all up.’
Having spent so much time inside Laila had started to put on weight, which was an issue if she wanted to have vaginoplasty on the NHS – as surgeons require a certain body mass index.
So in 2021 Laila began to leave the house for short periods to walk as exercise, helping her lose more than three stone. In the same year she also started hormone therapy and ditched the anti-depressants which had left her ‘feeling nothing.’
But to be considered for her NHS surgery she still needs to lose more weight and is now looking for other private procedures to help her feel more comfortable in her body, allowing her to go back to college or find a job.
‘I would love to be able to get out into the world feeling confident,’ she said.
‘If I could get back to studying or work in a job where I can meet lots of different people but not feel worried about how they are looking at me that would be great.
‘I want to feel safe when I’m going out into the world and not feel like I’m in danger because of how I may look.
‘I do worry as soon as I speak people notice that my voice is deeper. And as a woman I am afraid if I am ever attacked and they realise I am trans it could lead to a really bad outcome.’
Now, on the advice of others, she has set up a Go Fund Me page for a range of surgeries including voice feminisation surgery – or glottoplasty – to raise the pitch of her voice, IPL hair removal, to remove facial hair and breast augmentation to change the shape of her breasts. Altogether the surgeries could cost around £10,000.
She added: ‘I know this is a divisive topic. I hope people can look beyond the politics and know there’s a person at stake.
‘I am somewhat lucky and I don’t like to feel like a victim, and this is not an attack on the NHS at all. I feel there are millions of people out there who are in a worse place than I am.
‘The only reason I decided to set up the fundraiser was because people said I am sure people who know you would want to help.’
Laila is still hoping to have vaginoplasty if approved by her doctor in the future.
She lives with her mum Yvette and has an older sister Charlotte and dad, Gary.
To donate to Laila, please visit gf.me/v/c/chh8/help-lai-afford-transrelated-surgery.