A transgender woman has revealed how she stored sperm while still living as a man – so she can father her own children in the future.
Stunning Lea Membrey, 20, from Auckland, New Zealand, visited a sperm bank three times before she began taking female hormones two years ago – and says the fact that she may one day be able to have a biological child of her own ‘incredible’.
Aspiring communications student Lea began transitioning in July 2015 after feeling ‘disconnected’ from her male body while growing up as a boy.
Since making the decision to transition, Lea has spent tens of thousands of New Zealand dollars (more than £5,200) on her new female body including getting breast implants, lip fillers, botox injections and laser hair removal.
Lea, who hopes to become a communications student, said: ‘I definitely want to have kids within the next ten years and having a child that is biologically mine is so important to me.
‘Although I don’t want children anytime soon I do want them to be naturally mine. I think it is incredible to know I can still have a baby that is half my DNA.
‘I had to bank the sperm before I started intensive hormone treatments because once you begin that your male organs eventually stop working altogether.
‘Now, nearly two years after I started the hormones, my testosterone is undetectable – I’m at the same level as a biological woman.’
Lea does intend to have full gender reassignment surgery in future but said it was more important to her now to change her outside appearance, so society views her as female.
Her next step is to ‘soften’ her face by having her jaw and brow bone surgically shaved. She said: ‘Getting a boob job about a year ago was an absolutely amazing experience.
‘It never felt weird at all. It was all so natural to me to wake up the next morning and have breasts.
‘Being able to show them off and have some great cleavage gave me that boost of confidence I needed to keep going on this journey.
Getting a boob job about a year ago was an absolutely amazing experience. It was all so natural to me to wake up the next morning and have breasts…
‘I love being able to look at myself in the mirror when I’m naked and not seeing a man’s flat chest. It’s very empowering to have this feminine thing on my body.
‘I do see myself getting the full surgery but that’s not a priority for me right now.
‘What’s most important for me is being able go outside today and wholeheartedly be seen as a female.
‘I get a lot of people saying to me ‘you shouldn’t have got your boob job, you should have got the sex change surgery first’ but I feel like my boob job has made people see me as a female.
‘I’d rather go out of the house and look really natural and be happy knowing that I’m 100 per cent female.’
Lea suffered bullying and abuse throughout her school years for being gay – a label she accepted but never truly embraced.
But meeting ‘gorgeous’ transgender women altered her perceptions about transgender people and was the catalyst that propelled her to see a doctor to discuss hormone therapy.
The 20-year-old said: ‘I used to just say to people that I was gay because it was obvious that I was different to other boys at school.
‘But I never thought I was gay because I used to really dislike men, which I think stemmed from the fact that I didn’t want to be one.
‘Although I don’t want children anytime soon I do want them to be naturally mine. I think it is incredible to know I can still have a baby that is half my DNA..
‘Others saw me as being gay because I was a very feminine type of guy so it was just so easy to take on that label.
‘At the time it was just a relief to put myself into some kind of box and be done with it.
But I never really knew who I was and I didn’t understand anything about being transgender until I left high school.
‘At a party, I just couldn’t believe it when one of these drop-dead gorgeous girls told me that she used to be male.
‘That totally blew my mind and it was such a defining moment for me.
‘I never thought a trans woman could look that good. I thought, ‘oh my god. This is who I am meant to be. This is what I want’.
‘It certainly wasn’t an instant decision. All these thoughts kept running through my mind like ‘am I feminine enough?’ or ‘am I really transgender?’.
‘The longer I waited the harder it would be because I would just look more and more masculine as time went on and the more difficult it would be to be able to look like a woman.
‘It was now or never – so I just went for it and I haven’t looked back.’
Lea said she is now happier than ever after starting her transition more than two years ago and said she ‘can’t believe’ she suffered for so long before she realised who she truly was.
She said: ‘My life is actually liveable now and I don’t have to deny who I am anymore.
‘I am who I am supposed to be and I could never go back to being male.
‘You have to embrace your true self because at the end of the day, it’s your life and your happiness.’