A few months after my NHS gender reassignment surgery, I began to understand and accept my new body.
Looking back, I think I suffered a type of post-surgery depression immediately after the procedure. I didn’t feel able to leave the house, I didn’t want to see anyone, and there were certain post-operative factors which meant I was quite restricted and couldn’t just enjoy life after the operation like I’d hoped.
But 5 or 6 months down the line, I felt more comfortable and happier in myself and I wasn’t in pain any more. I could finally go on dates and wear what I wanted – I could just be a normal 21 year old, without worrying.
I knew I was ready for the next stage. In June 2016, I went for breast augmentation surgery, as well as having some corrective surgery at the same time. With 300cc added to my boobs, when I woke up from the operation I felt exactly how I’d imagined I would after my gender reassignment surgery – absolutely delighted!
I was still working at Bristol Airport, but in February 2016 I left Duty Free and worked for a couple of beauty brands there. One was definitely more supportive of ‘girl power’ than the other! But October 2018 was a real turning point, as it’s when I got my job as a cosmetic surgery consultant at The Hospital Group.
I’d always found cosmetic surgery really interesting, and this was something I’d always wanted to do. I absolutely love it – it’s the best job ever, and I never want to leave. My experience as a trans person, and someone who has had surgery themselves, makes me feel that I can relate to patients who want to change something they don’t like. I always try to be understanding and empathetic with them, and I like being able to support and guide them from the start of their journey to the finish.
But even though I had a great new job, my journey to the real me wasn’t finished. My focus now switched to the facial changes I’d been wanting. I saved up for fillers, because I felt I needed to feminise my face. I had cheek, chin, and jaw fillers at The Hospital Group, as well as lip injectables, and they certainly worked, changing my face from being skinny and gaunt to softer and rounder. They needed to be topped up every few months to keep my face plump - maintenance that I needed to budget for.
In August 2019, I had breast implant removal and re augmentation surgery with The Hospital Group. That took me from 300c to 400cc, and I’m now a 32E bra size. I also had a lip lift to reduce the amount of skin between my nose and top lip, which helped to feminise my face further. In the future, I plan to have more treatment including having my ears pinned back, a nose job, and a chin implant.
I want to be the best version of myself that I can be. As much as I’d tried to talk myself out of having more surgery, the changes I want to make will give me a softer and more feminine look. And I can put the fillers behind me by having a permanent change through surgery.
Initially, part of me wanted to transform every single thing about my outer appearance when I finally had the courage to transition, but as time went on, I realised that I didn’t need to after all. Following my gender reassignment surgery and breast augmentation, I’d thought about buttock implants and having a curvier body with wider hips. As I finally became me and became more comfortable with who I was growing into as a person, I didn’t want to forget who I really was by changing to the point where I don’t recognise myself – there’s only so much surgery you can have before you start losing touch with who you really are.
Being a woman is hard – the pressure to look good can be intense - but most woman don’t have to deal with gender confliction too. Trans women have additional pressure, because they have to fight to be seen as female. If we don’t look good enough to ‘pass’ as the woman we are inside, then we don’t get taken seriously as the people we really are. We’re constantly trying to break down gender barriers.
Writing this and looking back, I have to pinch myself. I never thought I’d ever get to where I am now, having achieved what I dreamed of.
But I just wish I’d been born the way I should have been.
Early on, I knew I had two choices: keep on facing challenges every single day and perhaps eventually take my own life, or go through with treatment. What I was certain of was that I could no longer live a lie as a boy, because I wasn’t one inside.
If I didn’t face up to how I felt it seemed inevitable that I would end my life. Suicide is a terrible thing and it crossed my mind many times. It seemed an easy way out because I wouldn’t have to face discrimination, hate or abuse any more.
But I kept saying to myself, “What about Ella, the person inside who’s waited all this time to come out and show who I really am?”
Gender reassignment surgery has changed in my life, but I had no choice but to go through with it. I had to take that risk, and I’m so glad I did. People can see being transgender as a lifestyle choice, as if people are bored of their gender, but for me there was no choice at all.
Evan is still a part of me – trying to erase that by changing myself through surgery was never going to fix everything, although I used to think it would. I’m very grateful that I’ve had surgery, hormones, laser hair removal and the rest, because it’s made my life easier and helped me become the person I knew I was, but procedures don’t fix everything. Money can’t buy learning to accept yourself as the whole package, inside and out.
My journey still hasn’t ended and I’m not sure it ever will, because I’m constantly learning about myself and who I am. I don’t regret anything at all - I’d rather be open and proud of my life than hide away from it. I’ve become the person I was always meant to be and now I have the privilege of helping others in the same kind of situation.
I do feel proud of the strength I’ve found throughout the years. Being part of a minority is difficult, but I’ve always believed that you’re never given more than you can deal with in life. We’re all tested at some point - everyone is dealt different cards.
Sometimes, I’m amazed by what my family and I went through, but we did, and it was all worth it. My goal now is to make my mum, dad and my three brothers proud. I couldn’t have done it all, and I wouldn’t be here, if it wasn’t for them. I owe them everything, and they are everything to me.
Without them, I wouldn’t be able to stand proud and be my true self today. They have struggled just as much, if not more, than I have throughout the process. Transition can be so hard on families, and they haven’t had access to the support that I have, so they have struggled with this huge change.
But they have coped, and they’ve done so much for me throughout the years. How they did it, I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them. Their support has been incredible, and they have completely blown me away with their strength.
I really hope I have made my parents proud as a daughter. And I hope that my brothers are proud to call me their sister. I am so proud of them – they’ve shown me how it’s possible for people to change their mindset when they’re put in difficult situations. They have accepted me, and they treat me in the way I’d always dreamed of.
Anyone would be grateful to have them as brothers and as parents. I need to thank my family with all my heart.
Why am I telling my story? My hope is that people will see that we are just like anybody else. I am a person, not a just a label. Transgender people deserve to have the same opportunities as others do – we’re all equally valid, equally justified, and equally beautiful. We’re fighting to be ourselves, but why should we have to fight to be accepted? I’ve always questioned why we get so much hatred and why people won’t give us a chance to be seen and heard. I believe that in a world where you can be anything, being kind is the most important thing of all.
Now I want to help educate others who don’t understand what it is to be transgender. I want to shed light on the struggles and realities of being trans - we’re not freaks or mentally ill. And I’ll continue to try to make our voices heard until my last breath.
I know that, by telling my story, I may be judged by people who can’t or won’t try to understand me. The most important thing, though, is that I’ve learned to love and accept myself, which is the hardest thing to do – much harder than any surgery.
Read Part 1 - Little Evan here.
Read Part 2 - Becoming Ella here.