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A Little Bit About Me


In the beginning...
I was born in England in the 1960's and had a reasonably happy and uneventful childhood.  I knew that I was a boy not a girl, and didn't consider myself to be a "girl in a boy's body", but I was vaguely envious of my sister and other girls for reasons that I couldn't explain. 

Jan Morris' amazing autobiography was the first book about transsexuality I read.

A defining moment in my young life occurred in 1976 when I read in The Mirror newspaper an article about a "sex-change" tennis star called Renee Richards.  Until then I had never heard of transsexuals, but I frantically began to look for more information in newspapers and at the local library.  Jan Morris and April Ashley became my first heroines; when I learnt of Amanda Lear and Caroline Cossey (Tula), I would fall asleep at nights wishing that I could be a woman as beautiful as they were!

A Passing Phase?
I nearly died from embarrassment when age 15 my father came home early one day and interrupted my frantic attempts to take-off the clothes of a sisterís friend who was stopping over for a few nights.  I also started to keep a hidden collection of transgender newspaper cuttings and other items in my bedroom.  Many years later, my mother told me that after finding make-up under my bed she had decided that I was definitely "gay" (i.e. homosexual). 

When I turned 18 I headed off to University.  For the first two years I lived in a hall of residence where I often neglected my studies as I spent many hours practicing my make-up and exploring the mysteries of hair styling, eyebrow plucking, nail manicure and other feminine arts - all a degree level subject for anyone not brought up from birth as a girl.  I was increasingly androgynous in dress and appearance, the highlight of my day would be a bus driver or shop assistant calling me "Miss". 

This Railcard was issued based upon my Birth Certificate and a photo from a nearby booth.  I used it for a year without any problems.

In my final year I shared a rented house with friends - with a girl who I was very close too but who had a boyfriend in the army, plus an engaged couple.  Unfortunately after two months my house-mates got to know more about me than I wanted when the other man returned early one weekend and caught me dressed en-femme.  I had occasionally (unnoticed I had hoped) "borrowed" the clothes of my female friend when she was away, a few days later she completed my humiliation when I found a pile of her clothes dumped on my bed.


I never found the courage to intentionally try to pass as a girl whilst at university - but was very aware that I could have and should have. 

When I left University I got a job in a small town in Northern England.  In a new place where no one knew me, I was absolutely resolved that I should start as I wanted to go on.  My new employer pointed me towards sharing digs - a flat in a nearby farmhouse - with a guy called Mike. 

Toni BasilI was hardly the conventional flatmate, screwing up my courage I arrived wearing some make-up and jewellery, which was not totally outrageous as it was the era of Boy George - although I didn't actually like him.  To further help things along I introduced myself to Mike and everyone else with the supposedly ambiguous name of Toni - it was derived from my middle name but the idea came from Toni Basil, who was a well-known female pop artist at the time.

The first few weeks after I moved in to the farmhouse flat consisted of me agonising for days over the next step, only to get a complete lack of comments from Mike.  I soon progressed from wearing a little make-up and jewellery to probably too much.  I also had my ears pierced, which was further confirmation for my Mum when she next saw me that I was definitely 'gay'.  Finally, I shaved my legs one night and emerged to watch TV wearing a pink dressing gown and fluffy slippers, he just asked if there was some I wanted to watch!

Within a month of moving in to the flat I was effectively living there as a girl, but at work I was still a man and tried to avoid any confrontation and mutual embarrassment.  I was greatly assisted in all this by the generous and laidback attitude of Mike.  We were just good acquaintances rather than intimate friends but I valued his acceptance of a potentially very difficult situation.  I never heard him referring to me as "she" or "her", but in private conversation he started to occasionally call me "dear", "love" and even "sweetheart" - arguably I should have got offended!  He always took me as I was, and never once did he ask any seriously awkward questions. 

Clothes wise, women's tops, jumpers and trousers became my preferred day wear - despite paying far more than for nearly identical men's items.  I tried to add feminine curves to some jeans by adding foam hip & thigh padding, but that was uncomfortable and soon dropped.  I also started to wear female underwear, but still avoided skirts and dresses.  

Almost every Saturday I would travel to York to buy girls clothes, shoes, jewellery, cosmetics, perfume ... although at first I was very shy and embarrassed in the shops. Finding a suitable bra was particular problem, sports bras didn't exist in the early 1980s and I purchased numerous A/B-cup bras before I finally anything that fitted and suited me.  I'll never forget one incident whilst I was very self-consciously browsing the lingerie section in Marks & Spencer.  An over-helpful male Shop Assistant asked "Can I help you Sir" and insisted on helping me to choose what on the spur of the moment became a sexy bra for a supposed girlfriend, but as I stuttered over his questions, went bright red, and got ever more embarrassed, it was all too clear that he knew it was really for myself.  After that experience I refused to let myself be self-conscious about buying femme items, if store staff had a slight chuckle - did it really matter? 

The M&S disaster made me realise that I needed to go out dressed clearly as a girl, rather than continue with the androgynous style that I had adopted at university.  I was very scared and nervous at first, but began to wear "girl" indicators such as jewellery, lipstick and nail varnish when I went out in public.  

I had a slight panic attack before appearing wearing a bra for the first time in the flat one Sunday morning, another anti-climax with Mike - a few glances but no comment.  I spent many hours making new inserts - experimenting with latex foam, various cushion fillings, rice, and even water filled balloons.  In the end I settled on a simple padded bra with an insert consisting of a foam core covered by a thin layer of cotton wool.  This was very light and I sometimes used glue or tape to try to stop the bra riding up.  [Thirty years later ... you can buy infinitely superior breast forms for just $/Ä/£ 150!]

After about a month, Mike and myself started to occasionally go out for a drink.  Rather reluctantly our regular haunt was a convenient, but otherwise totally awful, nearby farmer's pub.  The first time we went in there my arrival made quite an impact as the locals tried to decide if I was a dubious gay pervert, or a woman about 40 years younger than their average age.  Mike was as uncomfortable as me when we first entered, reluctantly ordered drinks and sat down together at a table.  I drank my lager & lime's far too quickly and soon needed to use the toilet.  My decision to use the Ladies was only made after a huge but increasingly urgent mental debate.  I doubt if there was anyone in the pub (including Mike) who wasn't watching my choice.  In our subsequent visits to the pub my big problem became dealing with a small group of rather elderly male regulars whose banter and sexual innuendoes I had great difficulty responding to - mainly because I couldn't understand them! 


Wasted Years

At the end of 1985 I was agonising about living full-time as a woman and what to say to the HR Manager at my employer.  But my luck failed - instead I got made redundant.  Ten other staff who had started at the same time as me were also made redundant so I'm fairly sure that this was due to a genuine lack of work rather than any concerns about my private life.

I wasnít quite ready and self-confident enough to face my family as a girl.  I had to return home to live with my mother - I got my hair cut and reluctantly threw out all the make-up, jewellery, women's cloths and other difficult-to-explain item that I had accumulated.  I will always bitterly regret not going full-time at this critical juncture, particularly as I now know that my Mum would have been very supportive.  If I had known some other T-girls, they may have provided the extra moral support that I needed to "go for it".  But this was before the Internet explosion and TG Support groups were still rare and hard to find.

I soon got a new job and the late 1980's became wasted motion - I took the easy route and used work to defer doing anything other than continuing to live my life as a man.


My first photo as Annie.

Second Try
Whilst passing as a woman was relatively easy for me at age 21-22, I was very aware that the passage of time doesn't favour the dithering transsexual woman.  By late 1993 I was becoming desperate and vowed to transition as a woman before my rapidly approaching 30th birthday. 

Throwing the dice, I got a new job in the Middle East.  I was frantic to develop as a woman and Annie was soon born - albeit in private at first.  In May 1994 I began to take female hormones which were freely available locally.  I experimented with these hugely but progress was quite slow as I sometimes stopped taking the pills as my mind, heart and body argued about my gender. 

The months flew past and I failed to meet my 30th birthday target, but all seemed to become clear in late 1996 when I met Lindsey - the first of two girl-girls who have had a big influence on my life.  We just 'clicked' and the second time we bumped in to each other we soon sought out the quietest table we could find in the bar.  Our discussion soon became about transsexuals; she had a great interest in the topic and it was amazingly easy to open up to her.  Within a few days we were talking for hours on the phone as though she had known me all my life as Annie, and we quickly got very close.

Lindsey persuaded me to go out with her en femme, ladies were in very short supply and got free entrance and often free drinks in bars and clubs.  I was so nervous that it wasn't really a great night and we were back home after 2 hours - but it was also a night I will never forget! 

Thereafter I had no choice but to go out with her as Annie - girls were remembered and trying to accompany her as a man would be asking for trouble.  Scared and very self-conscious, for several weeks I spent every spare hour practicing and refining my make-up, hair, nails, style .... The cost was also horrendous - I was again starting from nothing and in a few weeks I spent several thousand dollars buying just the basic's in regards to makeup, jewellery, clothes, shoes and accessories.  Nothing designer, but my savings still took a big hit.  

Lindsey was a fantastic help as I developed my feminine appearance - sometimes brutally honest but always helpful.  She lived with her parents and I began to arrive at their villa at about 8 pm almost every night.  About midnight - when the bottle of whatever was empty - we would finally head out to the night club.  Whilst we had fun getting ready, it was also very serious for me as I was about to try to pass in public as a girl - and possibly encounter people who knew me as a man.  Her parents tried to just ignore the goings on, but several years later her father told me that they had agonized over how to address me for a party invite. 

Lindsey changed my life, apologies for the damaged photo.

I was soon going out regularly as Annie - some nights out were great and I would enjoy the chat ups, free drinks, dancing ... .  Others became a nightmare as the loud music, dim lights and too much alcohol led to unwanted but increasingly determined intimacy by a newly acquired male friend.  Lindsey often rescued me (and me her), with plenty of stories to tell

The chat-ups by men were continuous.  I was constantly being flattered, and soon had no doubts about my ability to pass as a woman - albeit in bars and night clubs where there were at least three or four men for every woman, even a pig wearing lipstick was a potential 'Miss World'!

Asian katoey (shemales) were common and one night - as the Night Club I was in began to close - the word went round that Public Security were waiting at the exit.  Female police officers were checking every girl for her 'authenticity'.  A hovering American sailor suddenly got my full attention, and we were waved through the exit by the police, although his bounty then ended with a goodnight kiss.  Being Caucasian almost certainly saved me that night.  A few days later the local newspaper revealed that six Asian's had been charged with public debauchery at a night club and deported.  Although not publicised, I later heard that several Arab 'girls' were arrested as well.

A flattering caricature
by a friend

Being on a constant female hormone regimen, plus some hard dieting and exercise, slowly resulted in me gaining a far more female physical appearance.  By early 1997 my weight was down to just 62kg (134lbs) and my figure was probably the best it will ever be. But I was still about 6kg (14lbs) heavier than apparently is acceptable for a female model of my height (175cm or 69in) - bad news for them!

As my breasts developed, I discarded bra inserts after I buying my first Wonderbra.  It sounds like advertising, but the bra was just perfect for me.  It pushed up all my breast tissue flesh without any signs, I could show off a decent cleavage and low cut dresses and tops became irresistible buys. 

I no longer panicked when I had my boobs groped - but conversely I became worried about my appearance at work and when passing socially as a man.  I was still working and living as a man, but ever increasingly socialising as a woman - and was becoming totally confused and stressed out by it all.  For example an American naval officer persuaded me to be his lady guest at a formal dinner.  It sounded wonderful at 2:00 am but when starting to get ready some days later I had a panic attack.  Just 20 minutes before he was due to pick me up I phoned him with the desperate excuse that that my boyfriend wouldn't let me go - I still feel awful about letting him down.

Another unforgettable experience was after I made the mistake of getting too drunk and too friendly with a handsome guy.  He was giving me a lift home but I stupidly agreed to stop at his flat "for a coffee"!  I really liked him and to my own surprise we enjoyed a pleasant snogging session with the lights low and some romantic music playing.  But inevitably he wanted to take things further and when his hands moved to my nether regions I panicked and hastily left, whilst he felt and saw enough to panic himself.  But he was the first man that I had been seriously attracted to, and in a moment of total lunacy I went back to his flat the next night - thankfully he was not there when I knocked

Every way I turned there were issues, just one small example is that I had to pluck my eyebrows to pass as Annie, but was then very self-conscious about their appearance at work.  I was also shaving my legs so that I could pass as a girl, but the corollary was that I had to attend events as a man where my wearing long trousers were just plain silly.  I was also increasingly faced with the danger of meeting an acquaintance who knew me as a man or as a woman - whilst passing as the opposite.  Another problem was my hair, because of my day job I couldn't grow it too long or go to a woman's hair salon, I briefly experimented with a wig but Lindsey was not impressed.

By the end of 1997 I had been taking female hormones for over three years (albeit on and off) and my breast development had become quite substantial - still on the small side for a woman but very embarrassing for a man.  I was avoiding being seen topless and was wearing loose shirts and baggy jumpers.  That was not still enough and I'll never forget two giggling and very tipsy girls telling me "you need a bra" when supposedly in male mode - mortifying but wonderful at the same time. 

Hi Mum!
With my wonderful Mum

As my stress levels increased it felt inevitable that I would soon transition full time, and my penis was becoming a serious problem - I was inevitably going to be detected soon, and quite possibly with very serious consequences.  In June 1997 I began to make enquiries about Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) and plucked up the courage to tell my mother about my situation.  She decided to visit me and after much agonising I met her at the airport as Annie, we then had a weird but wonderful two weeks of mother-daughter bonding.  Sadly I never felt able to tell my father - who was now divorced from my mother - before his death from cancer.

In September Lindsey left to attend University in England - where she soon met a Frenchman who is now her husband.  After she left a completely unexpected obstacle almost immediately occurred which put all my plans on hold - I met another wonderful girl called Ellen!  We instantly bonded, but Ellen clearly wanted and expected a "normal" boyfriend and I felt unable to reveal Annie to her. 


A last attempt to be "Normal"
Ellen was obviously disappointed by my avoidance of physical intimacy despite her increasing efforts, and after much mental debate I decided to stop taking my female hormones in the hope that a physical relationship as a 'man' might still be possible for me.  I then spent anxious months waiting for the reappearance of some slight libido, and also for my depilated hair to begin to re-grow! 

Man or WomanIn October 1997 - as Ellen stayed over ever more frequently in my flat - I agonizingly threw out all evidence of Annie (clothes, makeup, perfume, jewellery, books, photo's ... - several thousand pounds/dollars' worth of stuff!), including some precious Toni/Annie items that went back to my teens and which had survived previous throw-outs.

In early November Ellen moved in with me.  For the next two years I tried to conform and be a "normal man" for her sake.  But unhappily, every day I realised more and more that being normal was not what I really wanted, nor was it really possible. 

My breast development was a serious problem, stopping hormones had no effect on their size and despite my efforts to hide them I was always conscious of them when undressing in Ellen's sight - at first pointlessly seeking a darkened bedroom, or undressing with my back to her and whipping on a  pyjama top.  My breasts were very obvious under a T-shirt, whilst going topless in the pool or on a beach was highly embarrassing for me and I desperately tried to avoid this.  Both my reluctance and the cause was all too obvious to Ellen - she clearly found my 'man boobs' unattractive and physically avoided them.  She several times made half-hearted jokes about lending me a bra and once when tipsy even said that it was "like sleeping with another woman" - a remark which gave me very mixed feelings.

Finally in late 1999 I resumed taking hormones and our physical relationship quickly lapsed as I lost all sexual urges and soon became incapable of an erection, despite her best efforts.  Inevitably her suspicions were by now fully aroused and my female side was finally exposed to Ellen - although the slightly unexpected source was my mother who told her pretty well everything during a visit for the 2000 New Year.  Soon after Ellen broached the subject with me in a very awkward conversation, desperately embarrassed I tried to explain that as a teenager I had often wished that I was a girl, and that recently this feeling had returned and become ever harder to fight.

She seemed to take it reasonably well and in early 2000 I slowly let Annie emerge in my manners and appearance - whilst trying to involve a reluctant but still loving Ellen.  Eventually I purchased and came home with matching dresses (actually sarongs) for us both.  We tried them on together.  Ellen did her best to cope, but was terribly upset seeing me for the first time dressed as woman. 

We then both struggled to adapt to the changes that I was making in my life.  My birthday came round in late March and Ellen addressed her card to me as "Annie" - the first time that she had called me that.  Just as wonderfully she gave me a beautiful and expensive dress that I had admired while we were out shopping together.  But the day also really marked the end of our male/female relationship.


A Decision
At the turn of the millennium I was totally bewildered  The internet had arrived and I spent many hours browsing Geocities - a hot bed of transgender websites.  But these often only served to confuse me further - I wasn't a transsexual in the sense of being someone who had known since a young child that they were female - i.e. a woman born in a man's body

After resuming hormones I had no libido but desperately wanted to be attracted to men and was actively seeking this.  I thus read the theories of Dr Bailey's and Dr Lawrence with a considerable sense of irony and disbelief, however I did relate to some elements of the autogynephilia model.  When I suggested this to others I hit a hail of criticism - even abuse. 

Trying to make sense of my life, I gave up with any recognised medical definition and decided that whilst born male, I needed to live as a woman. 

In the summer of 2000 I spent a month's vacation exploring Florida in the USA as Annie.  Ellen was with me for first two weeks, but I was one my own for the last two.  I had some bad moments - particularly after Ellen left - which made me realise how much I still needed to redevelop my feminine persona and appearance before I would be ready to transition full-time. 

This became the focus of my life and although I continued to live with Ellen it was becoming apparent that our futures were different.  She found it difficult to cope with my continuing feminisation, despite all her efforts to try to accept it and even help me.  She just wanted to be with a boyfriend and potential husband, but instead she had ended up with a would-be woman who no longer had any sexual interest in her.  I was certainly in no position to object when she began to go out at night with ought me, and sometimes didn't return until the next day.

In early November 2000 we very sadly parted ways - promising to remain friends.  [In October 2002 I attended Ellen's wedding to a wonderful guy.  I wish them both the very best.]

After the split with Ellen, I knew that I had reached a cross-road in my life and was faced with the blunt choice of whether to live the rest of my life as a man or a woman - it was now or never if I was ever going to switch to living as a woman.   

I sent my CV out as "Annie, female, age 3X" to several job agencies, just a few days later I was contacted in relation to a short term contract in London for which I was well qualified.  I had an interview with their local representative which was absolutely the most stressful experience of my life - I was terribly nervous and eventually telling him that I was a transsexual woman had me nearly in tears with stress and worry.  I was totally expecting a horrible and embarrassing "we regret..." letter, but after a week's delay I got a phone call offering me the job!


A New Life
I was far from prepared for transition, but events suddenly had a momentum of their own.  After a hectic few weeks of organising the end of my old life and the beginning of my new, I flew to England on the 14th December 2000.  On my passport I was still "Male" and so I arrived at Heathrow for the last time (please God) as a man, but thanks to a lengthy session in a disabled toilet and a pre-prepared MasterCard I checked in to my Hotel as a stylish(?!) young(?!) Miss - very self-conscious but elated.  My first test was avoiding the inclusive full breakfast because of my dieting!

I spent two weeks finding somewhere to live and sorting myself out, I had to cope with a huge change in my life and even everyday activities were rather frightening and intimidating at first, but as the days passed I slowly relaxed and eventually began to feel confident enough to chat and socialise a little when people talked to me.  I found London to be seriously expensive, partly because of all my essential shopping.  Now that I was living day-in day-out as a woman I found myself needing a much bigger collection of clothes, shoes, jewellery, bags, accessories,  toiletries, make-up, et al. - in a few weeks I had to spend what most women would over several years.  Also the sheer amount of time that I needed to spend every day on my workout, shower, 'toilet', attire, hair, make-up, touch-ups ... was a shock - at least 2 hours a day.  I had once idly asked Ellen if she ever got fed up will all the time she spent every morning putting on the same make-up, and she said "Yes, but it's part of being a woman".

After New Year it was in to work.  My alarm was set for 5:00 am so I that could go through my long morning routine and then commute in.  It was an enormously stressful and worrying time, not helped by quickly realising that everyone knew that I was a transsexual.  For good or bad it ensured that I was well known - everyone knew me by name!  Things didn't go too well and every night I was wondering if I had made a huge mistake by transitioning.  My contract was for only three months and depressingly it was not renewed.  I tried to console myself that without it I probably wouldn't have finally made the huge change to my life that I had been considering for so many years. 

In early April 2001 I was interviewed by a computer company in Ireland, the interview was by phone and I was terribly conscious about my voice - trying to raise the pitch without it sounding forced. They were pretty desperate and I was offered a position supporting their customers and agents in Europe and the Middle East.

My CV, qualifications and references revealed my background and despite a promise from HR that "aspects" would remain confidential it was probably inevitable that it soon became widely known that I was a transgender.  From bitter experience I was far less self-conscious about my background than I had been less than 6 months before.  I determinedly claimed a seat in the Tea Room where women went to at unofficial breaks, no one confronted me and after a few awkward days it became gossip as usual and I started to make friends.

I had got the job because of my Middle East experience.  Thankfully I got on well with key customers on the email and by phone, but at short notice I had to make a memorable trip on my own to an important client in the UAE.  This began horrendously because my passport still said "Sex: Male" and a lot of questioning resulted on arrival at the airport, they finally let me through after many phone calls.  The next two days were all business and various deals were agreed.  On the last night we had a meal (banquet!) in a tent in the desert, where I had the clients Chief Exec - a Sheikh - serenading me!  When he was leaving I was panicking that he would offer me an impossible to refuse lift back to my hotel, but I just got a really nice goodnight.   I would love to know what he knew and thought about me that night!

Just when things seemed to be working out, the business was badly hit by the tragic events of 11th September 2001.  It closed its Dublin office at the end of November and I was again made redundant. 

My personal life was also very hectic during this period.  In October 2001 my boyfriend (emphasis still on the "friend") persuaded me to go on holiday with him.  I couldn't sleep the night before with worry, but it began to feel a bit special as we held hands on the aircraft for take-off.

When we arrived at the hotel his promise of separate rooms became one room with a double bed, but with a wine fuelled 'what the heck' I stopped worrying.  I found myself loving being someone's girlfriend - I had someone to dress up (or down!) for, and I had great fun playing a "bimbo" at times.  It was wonderful having a man looking after me, paying the bills, telling me how beautiful I was and ... well ...  to cuddle up to and tease and kiss whenever I felt like it.  The holiday was a new and unforgettable experience that I'll always treasure - among other things I just had to visit Aphrodite's Bath and we also went to several monasteries, one of which I couldn't enter because I was a woman - which made my day!  I finally began to believe and feel that I was indeed a woman; and the memory helped sustain me in the months to come.

Back home we went our separate ways again.  I was at a loose-end and rather down because of my redundancy when in mid-December 2001 my boyfriend - I'll call him "Martin" - suggested that I should move in with him.  Despite another mental panic, this time I didn't resist too hard, even though it meant moving down to Cork - and during our discussions I gained a credit card and a promise that we shared the housework.  The former he's always paid without complaint, but the second promise he soon broke. 

When I arrived at his house I sat outside for half an hour, trying to gain courage to start a new chapter in my life.  The day I arrived was his work Xmas Party - where my participation in a Lovely Legs competition was not optional, but to be fair he then had to "joust" for my Maidenly favours.  Despite his winning my hand in gallant fashion, a severe dose of reality began to creep in over the following days, and it was initially rather hard for us to adjust to living together as a "Him and Her" couple.

Soon after arriving in Cork I had a short and disastrous period as a Teacher's Assistant at a small Nursery School.  On impulse I had phoned in response to an advert, and was offered the job after a rather cursory interview by a desperate Principal.  It seemed a good idea at the time as I felt that I wanted to work with children, but my timing was poor - I was having laser hair removal treatment and was about to have breast augmentation.  I never really fitted in and the situation became impossible when the other teachers realised that I was a transsexual and reacted rather badly to that.  The experience was serious setback to my cultivation of maternal instincts - children and motherhood suddenly became far less attractive!

Out'ed and unemployed yet again, and in a strange town with no family or real friends other than my boyfriend, I became increasingly depressed and hit something of a low point in what was already a traumatic period of my life.  Very aware that I was now in my mid-30's, I began to think that my transition was a huge mistake, only the support (most days!) of Martin pulled me through.  I knew that he would be even more dismayed than me if I gave up living with him as 'Annie' (still with quotes in my mind).  I hung on and completely revamped my CV, cutting it down and removing all indications or direct links to my former male past.  Unfortunately my now threadbare CV reduced my value on the job market and it took several months of job hunting before I was finally offered and accepted a modest and temporary administrative position at a local college. 

I eventually started work in May 2002 when the woman I was replacing went on maternity leave.  I thankfully had no problem integrating and passing in the nearly all female office environment, which was undoubtedly thanks to both the very tough "training" of the previous 18 months, and the results my medical treatments.  It was finishing school and exams time for me - every day I expected to be out'ed but wasn't - it was wonderfully reassuring and I began to realise that I had made the right choice.  In December Martin was promoted, but had to move back to Dublin.  We bought a house within commuting distance of his office, and somewhat embarrassed I left my job in February 2003, slightly earlier than agreed.  I then spent one of the busiest months of my life sorting out the new house.  With no money left to spend and increasingly bored, I took a part-time job as a Sales Assistant at a shop. 

I had a pencilled in my SRS for May 2002, but had to cancel for a variety of reasons, not least an ever decreasing bank balance.  However a friend had recently had an orchiectomy (much cheaper!) and was very pleased with the results, after months of thinking about it, a job offer prompted me to quickly have an orchiectomy myself.  I tried to treat it like finally going to the dentist after having a bad tooth ache for ages.  It was totally the right and wrong time to take such a drastic step because of its irreversibility, however I knew that I had to "burn the bridge" in order to get on with my life as a woman - bitter experience had shown that society only expects and caters for men or women.  My mix of reluctance but determination is impossible to explain, and it was the best decision I ever made, the pressure was finally off - I was no longer physically male and could never be again.  Whilst I was also not physically female, to some degree that had now become just time and money.  After my orchiectomy, I no longer had any doubts that I was a woman and became increasingly 'bold' about this - running in the Dublin Women's Mini Marathon in June 2003 was a particular milestone, but not one I will ever repeat as I can only go downhill after managing to finish in the top 10,000!

Las Vegas or Gretna Green seemed a very attractive option some days!

In October 2003 the last of Martin's sisters tied the knot after months of frantic preparation in to which I was sucked, and that very evening the full weight of his large family was turned upon me to make an honest man of him.  We've had been many discussions since about about what exactly happened on 29 February 2004, but my firm recollection is that I popped the question to him.  He said "yes" and bought my engagement ring the next day - with a few hints as to what I wanted!

I realised far more than Mark the legal challenges facing us.  I needed a new passport and as a long shot I ticked "Sex: F" on the form when I went to the British Embassy in Dublin.  I added a short supporting letter from my GP and was amazed to be able to collect my new female passport a few days later with no questions asked.  It was to prove vital in the coming weeks.  [When I tried to renew the passport 10 years later I discovered that the British Embassy can no longer issue passports]

Arranging the wedding was left to me, and I've never had so much fun, stress, argument and sleep depriving worry - and that was just for my dress! 

I also became even more aware of my body and appearance than ever before - and that is saying something!  SRS became a necessity, and one of my first acts after getting engaged was to book my surgery.  I considered it inconceivable to walk down the aisle without being able to consummate the marriage as a woman on our wedding night.

Update May 2016:  Married Life

Unbelievably I'm now 11 years married, it's scary wondering where all those years have gone.


Finally, a few Q&As...

Selective - but it's my website!

Were you a woman trapped in a man's body? 

No.  In my youth I was a boy and accepted that until I hit my early teens and puberty.  I then had 20 years of mental warfare until I finally accepted an overwhelming need to live my life as a woman.

Did you hate having a penis?

No, it was part of my body and a source of enjoyment at times.  But living as a woman is greatly helped by physically appearing female.  My SRS was like finally going to a good dentist after years of worry - too long deferred, expensive, painful, very relieved that it was over, and delighted with the results. 

Do you have children?


But do you want to have children?

After transitioning I did have a very "broody" period, but working at a nursery for a few months largely cured me of that.  I've discussed adoption with my husband but we agreed that it was not for us. 

What is your biggest challenge as Annie?

Answering the phone and worrying whether I will be called "Sir" or "Miss" by a stranger.

What don't you enjoy as a woman?

A long list .... Queues for the Ladies toilets.  Urinary tract infections.  Painful shoes.  Spending a fortune at the Hair Salon.  My husband expecting me to all the housework.

What do you enjoy as a woman?

On reflection, more than I first thought ... A gentleman offering me his seat.  Being chatted up by a hunky man.  Expensive jewellery.  Perfumes.  My husband giving me a dozen red roses.


If you have any questions, or perhaps just want to know more about me,
please feel free to email me.

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Copyright (c) 2016, Annie Richards

Last updated: 16 May, 2016