What would you do if everything about yourself was wrong day to day? The way you looked, the way you moved – if you knew something just wasn’t right at all. This is a feeling that a lot of people face worldwide everyday, but when does it get to the point where you know you need to make a drastic change and change your gender?
First ever transgender operation
The first ever recorded transgender operation was in 1930. This was a Danish lady called Lili Ilse Elvenes or better known as ‘Lili Elbe’ who was previously Einar Magnus Andreas Wegener. She went to Germany for the operation – it was carried out over four separate operations, in 1930s sex reassignment surgery was very much in its infancy and was very experimental. Einar had previously been a painter, but as soon as she became Lili she stopped painting as she associated it strongly with her past identity. Sadly, Lili died a year later in 1931 due to her body rejecting the uterus and an infection spreading throughout her body. It’s interesting to consider that 1930 was the first recorded transgender operation, which poses the question – how many people before her felt they were born in the wrong body? Who should they have really been?
Fast forward roughly 80 years, and we can see that changing your gender has become a very viable option, there are extremely talented professionals who carry out seamless operations allowing people to live the lives they’ve always wanted. It’s not only the surgeons facilitating this, but the therapists and support available now.
Chloe Lapper is a transgender woman, and she has taken the time to speak with The Breached to unearth some answers and to help other transgender people feel comfortable in their own skin.
At what age were you when you realised you didn’t feel right within your body?
I was 7 years old when I first felt like something wasn’t right. All I wanted was to do was to wake up in the morning a girl, I would paint my toes because I could hide it and still feel girly. It wasn’t all over the internet and on TV like it is now so didn’t even know about the word ‘transgender’ – I’m 32 now.
When did you make the life changing decision to change gender from man to woman?
I was 18 when I first went to the doctors and started the process but it was on and off for years. I didn’t do it for 6 months as I went out as a girl and it scared the hell out of me. I officially started living full time when I was 22.
What was your name and profession when you were a man?
My name was Shane and I was a male model and worked as personal shopper in luxury retail like Harvey Nichols etc.
What were people’s attitudes when you told them about your future?
I actually came out on Facebook, I was drunk one night and then I came home and put it as my status! Woke up thinking what the hell had I done?! But it was probably the best thing I ever did. It was like ripping off a plaster it’s better in one hard yank than little bits at a time.
How long did the procedure take?
Its still on-going and doesn’t really ever end. I’d say the most important bits can range between 5-8 years.
Did you receive any negativity?
Yes, I did however I believe it’s about how you carry yourself and how you’re respectful of other people’s opinions as we all are entitled to them.
Who is your role model?
I really look up to my mum, she didn’t accept me at first but now it’s brilliant and I think it helped me become stronger.
What’s your opinion about the likes of Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner?
I love Laverne Cox! She overcame everything and worked so hard to be where she is today, however Caitlyn really isn’t a real representation of a woman who has gone through struggles. She was able to transition straight away because she had the money to have all the surgery, it’s not quite the same as the rest of us.
Can you describe how it felt when you were going through all the various changes/hormone treatment both emotionally and physically?
Oh wow… the hormones are extreme! They make you have morning sickness every day I felt like a pregnant woman, or the feeling of being hung over every day ha! The changes were strange too for instance how I thought, spoke, acted, having boobs, your nipples hurting and feeling swollen. I think it’s different for everyone, but was such a magical feeling when it all became real.
When did the final operation take place? What did it feel like the first time you saw yourself at Chloe?
I have not currently undergone the final operation on the waiting list unfortunately.
What was the first thing you did as a woman?
Got my toe nails done and wore open toe sandals.
Have you found that relationships have stayed the same, or have differed?
Yes. Guys sometimes see ‘trans women’ as a taboo and never normally want to commit and I find only want one thing which isn’t always ideal. Also, not all men can tell therefore I find myself in a situation where I have to tell them that I’m a transgender woman, which is sometimes awkward.
Can you tell me what your highest point was, and what your lowest point was of the overall experience?
My highest point has been being accepted and being able to live my life. I have several low points, one of which is not being able to give birth, the wait on the NHS because I wasn’t born in the right body.
What advice would you give others who are having doubts over their gender, what are the absolute tell tell signs that you should change gender?
For me I just knew. But funnily enough, I was also a man’s man so I think if people are suppressed or feel that way, they need to speak to someone. There’s nothing worse than keeping it hidden at the end of the day if you know you know.
For more insights from Chloe’s life take a look at her YouTube channel as well as following her vlog @nutsaway on instagram and on twitter at @Chloe24Grace. Chloe is passionate about sharing her lifestyle as a transgender woman in the hope she helps others overcome issues and be happy with who they are.