A young woman has revealed how it took her 18 years to realise she ‘didn’t have to be a boy anymore’ and could finally make the transition to feel right in her own skin.
It took Auckland woman Lea Membrey, 20, two years to ‘learn how to be a girl’ before she realised she needed to ‘stop trying so hard’ and just be herself and everything would fall into place.
Ms Membrey had ‘never been happy being a guy’ but when she hit puberty and her body started changing she really struggled.
‘It was the most disturbing time because I was growing into the wrong body. I would do guy things even though I had no interest in them just because I wanted to fit in.
‘Now I feel like I am who I was supposed to be – the most amazing moment was when I got my breasts and I could show them off – almost to prove to everyone that I was a woman.
‘Before that even when I was on the female hormones I felt like I had something to prove. It was like look at this it is part of my body this is real.’
The young woman didn’t realise gender reassignment was possible until she was 18 and met other transgender women.
‘I met these beautiful women and didn’t realise they were transgender and it was amazing.
‘They were so beautiful and looked like women, which is when I decided to go to the doctor to and tell them I wanted hormones – I wanted to be a woman.
‘I think growing up all I had seen in the media about transgender women made them look like drag queens or prostitutes – not beautiful like these women were.
‘It made me wonder why I was still living as a boy when I was miserable.’
Now the blonde-beauty attracts countless admirers who ‘can’t tell’ she has transition from being an uncomfortable teenage boy to a happy woman in just a couple of years.
‘I guess I did everything at a good time, I have no Adam’s apple so don’t need to have that shaved,’ she said.
So far she has only had breast enhancement surgery and Botox injections in her lips – less intensive than the procedures which lay ahead.
‘I want to concentrate on making my face a bit softer – taking away some of the harsh lines – it is more important for me to fix what everyone sees when I am outside before I change what’s between my legs.’
The young woman has found trial and error important in becoming who she is today.
‘I have a very supportive family and friends who have shown me little things but I have basically had to learn myself,’ she said.
‘When I first started I was trying too hard – now I just wear makeup from the chemist instead of the best brands and I have learned so much more about tones and colours.
‘I feel like I don’t have to try so hard now because I can just be me.’
The young woman wants to be a positive role model for other young transgender people who haven’t yet ‘come out’ or decided to transition.
‘After I found out it takes a while for the hormones to work I took the plunge because I knew I didn’t have to tell everyone straight away,’ she said.
‘I have been so lucky with my support network though – I tink that is so much more important in the end than how you look or how much you spend getting there.’
Ms Membrey has already spent ‘tens of thousands’ to get where she is today but says she ‘will never look back’.