Our patient Jemma has kept a fascinating journal of her life through transitioning which she would like to share in the hope it will help and inspire other people to follow their dreams and maybe answer some questions that people may have. Read Jemma’s diary and see how she is now looking forward to living her life as a woman.
March 2006 – Coming Out:
I lived a male existence to the outside world for 34 years. However deep down inside me lived another person wanting to escape, but too fearful to even contemplate letting her out… so I tried to ignore her whilst trying to live a life as a male…I knew though that something had to give.
I didn’t realise growing up just how strong she was going to get. I started out at the age of 8 as a secret crossdresser, only wanting to wear certain female clothes…however in my early twenties this turned into wanting a whole wardrobe of female clothes and the appearance of a biological woman, also the length of time I wanted as a woman had increased. So I knew I couldn’t contain the dressing I was able to do in secret as I lived at home and have such a close family, especially mum, I know that nothing would get passed her. The only choices were to tell my family…or leave the family home. The other scenario was being kicked out of the family home after I broke the news to them…however that was a risk I had to take, I had no other options.
So at the age of 26, I mentioned that dreaded “t” word that I feared so much and as I thought at the time no parent would want to hear their own child saying. Not knowing my terminologies and how big my female side was going to become, I came out as a transvestite to my mum. My mum wasn’t sure herself of the term transvestite so I explained about my dressing and what this meant; that from time to time I needed to dress as a woman (realising now I didn’t fit the true definition of a transvestite more a crossdresser). Thankfully she and my family were extremely supportive, wanting to ask questions for their own understanding, rather than acting on any pre-judgement they may have thought. So great, I could get the whole wardrobe of female clothes, make up and wigs…dress whenever I liked in the comfort of my own home…I guess every crossdresser’s dream. At first I felt utter relief, however as the months rolled on I still felt depressed knowing deep down that actually crossdressing wasn’t the answer.
March 2006 to December 2013 – Decision:
Having such a fantastic mum, who I could chat to about anything, I said that crossdressing might not be the answer for me. Over the next 3 years I finally admitted to myself and to her that I may need to transition into a woman. My family were ready for me to transition from the age of 29. Unfortunately I wasn’t, still unsure whether transitioning was right for me. I had lost my courage many a time thinking about how society would be when I transitioned. It took me 5 years to finally pluck up the courage to transition. During that 5 year period, I had laser hair removal and female voice therapy. I also saw, privately, a psychiatrist Dr Lorimer a gender specialist…he opened my eyes to the fact that I was a normal case book study and diagnosed me with gender dysphoria. After seeing Dr Lorimer, I realised I had to transition…there was no real choice, my gender dysphoria was such that the decision was to simply take my own life because the pain of not being a woman was so severe or face the consequences of transitioning. I would not give my worst enemy gender dysphoria nor that “choice”.
July 2014 – Going Full Time:
I have worked for a local authority in the finance department since I was 19 years old. I thought about how my work colleagues were going to handle the news that I’m not actually a man but a woman instead…simplistically put to them without explaining the complicated nature of gender dysphoria. Then wider, how would the rest of society cope with this news. Since I came out to my family, I hardly ventured outside my home as a woman. Could I possibly do this…the months leading up to me living in role as a woman a complete blur, taking each day as it came. However my strength of conviction lead me to maintain my decision to go full time and I didn’t waver from this once. I legally changed my name to Jemma, my manager witnessed this and I prepared a letter to my work colleagues which my manager emailed out. So on 8th July 2014, I started living as Jemma full time…wow, the support from my work colleagues had been an encouraging start! I don’t think I’ll every forget my first day at work…it certainly eased my concerns about transitioning, which opened my eyes to how society would react to me.
The next and biggest stage in my journey to womanhood was operations; my gender dysphoria was such that for me to be happy and comfortable in my own skin I needed to look like a natural woman that closes resembles what I should have looked like, with the correct body. Researching a surgeon and medical team was problematic, many different surgeons in many different countries…in my mind I was planning trips to Thailand, Belgium, America etc…this would be tricky.
August 2014 – Finding Mr Inglefield:
After a conversation with my mum she mentioned going and speaking to my GP, who thankfully was fully supportive of my journey into womanhood, about surgeons in England. I still remember (and still have) the piece of paper, my GP gave to me which had Mr Inglefield’s name and contact number. In handing the piece of paper he said Mr Inglefield performs all the operations, then pointed to the face and the two areas on the body…to which I replied I understand! Fate played a big part in choosing Mr Inglefield. Through my earlier research I watched a YouTube video discussing her facial feminisation surgery…intrigued as I liked the results and wanted to know the surgeon…I continued to watch and she mentioned the surgeon which was Mr Inglefield. Sadly I viewed the video about 5 years ago and couldn’t remember the surgeon. So when I had the bit of paper from my GP, I watched the YouTube video again…and was really pleased and surprised it was Mr Inglefield. Then in August 14 I had an appointment with Dr Lorimer, I mentioned I’m planning on contacting Mr Inglefield for Facial Feminisation Surgery, that was when I discovered they used to work together! He gave a good endorsement… so my surgical aspirations could be a reality. Since my first working day I had saved my money, knowing that potentially one day I would need this for my operations…so my nervous excitement was beginning to build.
October 2014 – 1st Consultation:
I remember picking up the phone and dialling London Bridge Plastic Surgery, the nerves were overwhelming but for my own well being I needed facial feminisation surgery (FFS) first…so I needed to do this and admit to myself and others that I’m transgendered. Well wow, admitting I’m transgender and I need FFS was so easy and felt so normal! The consultation was booked in October 14. The excitement building up towards the consultation was massive. The day of the consultation arrived and I will never forget it, from nurse Mary introducing herself to mum and me and then started chatting to us, it was so nice, so caring and so great to be treated like a human. To the consultation itself with Mr Inglefield, he listened, asked me what I wanted, answered any questions I had…made the potential surgery seem really simple, properly examined me and treated me like a biological woman. It was that good, coming out of LBPS I stood outside on the front doorsteps and said to my mum, “I want Mr Inglefield to perform all my operations”. My mum had a similar feeling. I booked FFS for December 14.
December 2014 – Facial Feminisation Surgery:
The day of my facial feminisation surgery arrived, finally I will be able to change my male face into a female one…a face I’ve been wanting for all these years and now it was here. The length of recovery wasn’t an issue, Mr Inglefield previously explained it could take a year to fully heal, what’s a year compared to the rest of my life I thought. The operation went extremely well, my gender dysphoria was lessening along the way. It took 6 months before I could enjoy my new face and in that time I had a conversation with a transwoman wanting facial feminisation surgery herself. She was going to Belgium and asked me whether I was going back for more surgery on my face. My response was absolutely not! She then asked if it was that bad…my reply was, emphatically not, my operation went so well that I didn’t need anything more altering to my face. I thought to myself, I have gender dysphoria not body dysphoria.
December 2015 – Breast Augmentation Surgery:
I started hormonal treatment in August 14, I wanted to wait for my own breast tissue to stop developing before going for a breast augmentation with implant surgery. A consultation was booked in October 15 and again went extremely well… and again feeling at ease throughout the consultation. I had no cup size in my mind, I just wanted something that would look natural for my size. The surgery was booked in December 15. There was no doubt in my mind and in my mum’s that the operation would be a success, again feeling just excitement and thrilled that the day was finally here and my body will start to look more like the body I truly am. Many years ago I read a young transwoman website, where she described that the operations were correcting a birth defect. I was now correcting another birth defect. The operation went really well, just utterly delighted with the results.
December 2015 to January 2016 – Gender Confirmation Surgery Thoughts:
Recovering from the operation, gender confirmation (or reassignment) surgery was the next stage. I never realised, before my operations, the full impact they would have on my gender dysphoria. I have described, to many different people, that I thought of all three of my operations…that the most excited one would FFS, followed by breast surgery and then GCS. I seriously considered GCS operation, asking myself am I sure I want this…is this what I want really. Knowing this operation isn’t for all transwomen that there is no right or wrong decision, it’s down to feeling comfortable in your skin. Deep down I know that I needed the operation… simply because my gender dysphoria wanted me to closely resemble the biological woman I should have been, there was no room for gender ambiguity.
January 2016 – Gender Confirmation Consultation:
I booked the Gender Confirmation Surgery consultation in January 16. I knew going into the consultation that I needed laser hair removal / electrolysis on the areas which were going to be operated on. Wow, words couldn’t express the excitement after the consultation, the sheer delight that the birth defect is going to be corrected. ..I truly never believed I would have felt this excited by the upcoming operation and that was only the consultation! No operation date was set because I needed hair removal and also needed to be signed of by the Gender Identity Clinic as well, which was booked for March 16.
March 2016 – Gender Confirmation Surgery Sign Off:
My appointment with the GIC came in March 16, where I was asked the direct question why I wanted GCS…well after about 5 minutes I was still going on about how excited I felt about this operation to Dr Lorrimer…in the end I think I apologised for going on so much. Thankfully I was signed for the operation.
January 2016 to September 2016 – Gender Confirmation Surgery Preparation:
After the GCS consultation I started laser hair removal on the area which was going to be operated on. I also had laser hair removal on other areas as well. Every four to six weeks I went to LBPS to have this procedure with the lovely therapist Lynsey, I wouldn’t want anyone else to treat me, likewise I ended up having a few sessions of electrolysis with nurse Natalie and again I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. Each session, I was getting closer to the operation…mentally I felt so calm about the pending operation, just enjoyment…in a matter of months my journey into womanhood would be complete, I had dreamt about this day since my early twenties.
There was a small issue leading up to the forth coming operation. Simply put, do I have enough skin to form an adequate depth in the vagina as I was small and as a result part of my colon could be needed to increase the vagina depth, if it came to it…I had thought this may have been the case before the consultation. In the end it was a test of my resolve, all I ever wanted was to look like a normal biological woman, leaving myself with a less than adequate depth wouldn’t make me feel like this…but do I really want to use part of my colon. Thankfully after a hair removal session…I was discussing this predicament with my mum outside of LBPS when we bumped into Mr Inglefield. He suggested another consultation, as he could see the tricky dilemma I found myself in. I’m so glad he did though and another consultation was arranged…after this further examination he thought I had sufficient skin not to warrant removing part of colon. The sheer relief was overwhelming.
September 2016 – Gender Confirmation Surgery:
My GCS was booked for September 16. I couldn’t wait for the operation. As the weeks and days moved on…the magnitude of the week stay in Weymouth Street hospital hit me, could I last a week in bed. Could I last a week without opening my bowels. Do I really want this operation…can I just make do with having an ambiguous body…help, the next day I was going to Weymouth Street.
The morning I was admitted to Weymouth Street hospital was a complete emotional rollercoaster. I just felt utter shock that my surgical transition was coming to the end and the week stay daunting. There were tears when I left my home to start my journey. The shock stayed with me, until I was at Huntingdon train station waiting to aboard the train to London. My parents were with me whilst I kept questioning myself, is this what I want…I just wish I had been born a biological girl, like my mum, sister etc. Then a young woman, similar age to myself stood next us. That was when I realised, in a matter of hours I could be just like her…like my mum and sister. Time doesn’t stand still, a week will go fairly quickly.
From that moment on, I just had the best time ever. Bloods were taken at a nearby clinic, then went to Weymouth Street hospital…all the staff were really nice and friendly, just like being in a hotel room…sometimes I kept forgetting I was in for an operation! Nurse Mary and Mr Inglefield came in talked through the operation and signed the relevant paperwork, that was really lovely and reassuring as I explained a little bit about my dramatic morning…I couldn’t really put the feeling into words, but the response was fantastic…the next day was the operation.
I felt absolutely fantastic the morning of the operation, as the time soon approached and the nurse came to collect me…I felt sheer relief that I managed to ride the rough days…days where I would never dream this could be a reality, days where taking my life seemed a better option than transitioning, days where I felt helpless and but every day I felt the severe pain of my gender dysphoria. This in a moment of time could all disappear. In reality I’m not asking for much, just a body that matches who I truly am, just like every non-transgendered person. Sadly for the vast amount of my life gender has just been my mere existence…I just want to think like a non-transgender person, where gender is never an issue. This will now be a massive possibility. I walked down to the operating room, the anaesthetist prepared and ultimately put me to sleep.
I woke up, the best feeling I could ever imagine…I’m complete, my body matches who I am. I felt so ecstatic the nurses wanted me to sleep…all I wanted to do was chat! I have never felt so happy in all my life. My happiness stayed with me throughout my week stay in hospital…the week was an absolute breeze and I had a great time chatting with the nurses and staff at Weymouth Street hospital, plus every day Mr Inglefield and the LBPS nurses came and visited me as well. I was very fortunate to have my mum visit me every day, too. Having supportive people around really did enhance my experience. I’m recovering really well from my operation.
March 2017 – How I feel Now:
Mentally I feel so good, I’m beginning to think like a non-transgender person for the first time in my life. I’m not engulfed by gender and my gender dysphoria has evaporated, which is exactly what I set out to do on this journey. Even my own hair is regrowing as a result after gender confirmation surgery to the point where I don’t need to wear wigs anymore…I never thought this would possible with the amount of hair loss I had suffered before my transition. Reading a stat many years ago 1% of transgender people regret having operations…I am in the 99% along with so many others. Going through the journey, all the medical help and support I received is with non transgender people. It’s a relief to know that there are people out there willing to help other people…regardless of mine or anyone else’s gender transition. Humanity is beginning to come through and help the transgender community.
Looking back at my journey, it would have been traumatic without the support from my family, work colleagues, GP, Mr Inglefield and all the LBPS staff. Words can’t express my gratitude towards Mr Inglefield, a top surgeon who is willing to operate on gender patients and the lovely manner in which he and his team have treated me over the years…I’m now looking forward to what life has in store for me as a woman…wow! Thank you all.