I was assigned male at birth and I was given the named Martin. However, from the age of around 3, my head and my heart were telling me something different to the label I had been given, as I always felt the need to crossdress. It always felt so right wear womenswear, even though I felt guilty about it as I knew it was socially unacceptable. I only accepted myself as a crossdresser in my mid-twenties and as soon as I accepted it, the problem disappeared. I had a condition called gender dysphoria which is a feeling of great unease about your head and your heart telling you are the opposite gender to the sex you were assigned at birth, however my gender dysphoria was satisfied by regular crossdressing. I thought that side of my life was all sorted.
However, at the age of 48, my gender dysphoria increased to the point that I didn’t know what gender I was. This led to a voyage of discovery and to finally admitting to myself in January 2018 that I am a trans woman and I needed to change my body. I was officially diagnosed with gender dysphoria in March 2017 and I started on Hormone Replacement Therapy the following month as I opted for private treatment due to the long wait to be seen by NHS gender clinics. I changed my name to Katie in July 2018 and I started living full-time as female in September 2018.
However, my photography and video business was named after her old name - Martin Neeves Photography & Film. I could have changed it to Katie Neeves Photography & fIlm but I felt that would be like starting from scratch as it had been an established brand for 22 years, so I kept the name of my business the same. However, in order to do that, I would have to come out very openly as being transgender. It was a massive risk, but I felt it was one I had to take.
I decided to make a coming-out video which I put on all her social media in April 2018 and sent to all my clients. Here's the video: https://youtu.be/DQQJ8PW3pXM
I needn’t have been worried about the reaction to my coming-out video as I was inundated with hundreds of messages of support. It went from being something I dreaded to one of the most uplifting experiences of my life. I continued to post regular VLOGs about my transition as well as doing many media interviews and articles in magazines and newspapers. Here's an interview I did for ITV: https://youtu.be/IJDVNFCJEOY . After each interview, trans people would get in touch and tell me that what I said had helped them. I had become a trans ambassador!
I want to reach out to other trans people to let them know that it’s OK to be trans as so many trans people don't know that and they put so much pressure on themselves. I also want to educate the general public on trans issues. I have now set up Cool2BTrans to provide trans awareness training to organisations, media appearances and public speaking about trans issues as well as mentoring and support for trans people. I am so passionate about this important work as the more education there is, the more acceptance there will be and the easier it will be for trans people to come out and live their lives in peace in the future.