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Please don’t feel sorry for trans people like me. Be happy for us. Here’s why…

When I was born 51 years ago, I was assigned male and I was given the name Martin. However, by the age of around 3, my head and my heart were telling me something different to the label I had been given.  One of my earliest memories was of my Mum catching me trying on some of my sisters clothes.  She told me off and then every day for the following week, she would pull my shorts down to check that I wasn't wearing my sisters clothes under mine.  Although I had been reprimanded and humiliated for wearing my sister’s clothes it felt right.  I felt right.

Throughout my childhood I would secretly dress up in my sister’s clothes and it always felt so right, but it would be many years before I would admit to myself that I was (then) a crossdresser.  I was in self-denial and I endured many years of self-loathing.  Every time I crossdressed I promised myself that I would never do it again, but the need to dress would always come back and usually with a vengeance!

This vicious cycle of dressing and self-loathing continued until my mid-twenties. By that time, I had set up my own freelance photography and video business called “Martin Neeves Photography & Film” after working as a press photographer for 8 years.  It was only then that I accepted that I was (then) a crossdresser and as soon as I accepted it, I no longer felt guilty about it. I realised that I had a condition called gender dysphoria, which is a strong feeling of distress caused by my head and my heart telling me that I felt female despite have male sex characteristics. Gender dysphoria can vary in intensity and it often increases over time. However, my gender dysphoria was at a low enough level that it was satisfied by my crossdressing. I never for one minute thought that I would eventually need to transition. 

Many years later though, at the age of 48, my gender dysphoria increased dramatically.  So much so, that I really didn’t know what gender I was at all. I was so desperate to find out that I even Googled “What gender is Martin Neeves?” This led to a voyage of discovery to find out what my true gender was, before very emotionally and reluctantly admitting to myself that I am a transgender woman and that I needed to change my body.

So what now? What do I do with this information? I had a happy home life and a successful business. Could I really put all of that in jeopardy in order to live my truth? I didn’t want to be trans. No-one does, as it invariably involves going through a lot of pain, heartache and loss while also having to deal with bigotry and prejudice. However, the urge to live my truth was overwhelmingly strong. After months of turmoil, I was finally at peace with myself. I just had to do this thing. So I did.

I had a huge dilemma though about the name of my business when I changed my name to Katie, as it was very strongly branded around my old name, Martin. As it had been an established brand for 22 years, I felt that I had to keep the name of my business the same but in order to do that, I would have to come out very publicly as being trans. It was a massive risk, but I felt it was the only way.

I decided to make a coming out video to explain everything which I sent to all my clients and published on my social media on 26th April 2018. My finger hovered nervously over the mouse, knowing that as soon as I made that click to make the video live, my life would never be the same again. It was such a huge risk. I clicked the mouse and waited. I was so worried as my whole reputation and livelihood rested on the reaction to this one video. I needn’t have worried though, as I was inundated with hundreds of messages of support. I felt so loved. It went from being something that I was dreading to being the most uplifting experience of my life.

I continued to do regular VLOG updates about my transition in order to demystify the whole process and to show other trans people who may be struggling, that it really is OK to be trans. That it caught the attention of the local media and I started to do interviews for local radio stations and newspapers, before progressing to national radio, television and national newspapers and magazines. I had become a trans ambassador!  Not only was I helping other trans people directly, I was educating the general public about trans issues.  The more that people are educated about the subject, the more acceptance there will be and the easier it will be for other trans people to live their best lives.

I then decided to help to spread the awareness and acceptance of trans issues further by setting up Cool2BTrans, to provide trans awareness training, inspirational speaking and media appearances on trans issues as well as mentoring for trans people. I am really excited about this venture and I never thought that when I so emotionally admitted to myself that I am trans (just over 3 years ago) that so many positive things would come out of this massive change to my life.

I have gone from suffering from gender dysphoria to revelling in gender euphoria, as it really does feel euphoric to be able to live my truth at last. You have no reason to feel sorry for me, but plenty of reasons to feel happy for me. Trans people are just ordinary people who want to be happy.  And I am happy!

Katie Neeves

About Katie

Katie Neeves is a woman on a mission - but not just any woman and not just any mission!  She came out publicly as being transgender after living for 48 years as a man, risking her livliehood and reputation as a top UK photographer in the process. Katie formed Cool2BTrans to support and inspire other trans people and also to educate the general public on trans issues by showing them that trans people are just ordinary people who want to be happy - just like everyone else.  She helps organisations with diversity and inclusion by providing trans awareness training in an entertaining way by using her infectious sense of humour.  Recent participants of Katie's sessions said it was "a masterclass in storytelling!" and "the most interesting webinar so far and definitely the funniest".  Katie appears regularly in the media and she is on both ITV's and the BBC's lists of experts.

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