Born as David, Debbie, 42, who works for a leading insurance company, has struggled for most of her life to be accepted as a woman. This is her story.
At the age of 4 Debbie, realised that she was different when her teacher told her she couldn’t play with dolls as they were toys for girls. As a child Debbie loved to play dress up but her dad was a bully and was often physically and verbally abusive towards Debbie if he ever caught her showing any kind of female tendencies.
Debbie grew up living in fear and shame, which only made her feel more and more confused. Desperate to conform and please her dad, she played a lot of sports and at the age of 16 joined the army straight from school. Debbie hated her experience during the army and lived in constant fear of being found out and bullied – the army was a ‘man’s world’. She saw first-hand the result of being considered gay or effeminate.
In 1998, Debbie met the woman who was later to become her wife. Debbie has never been attracted to men; she has always just associated herself as being a female. She told her wife-to-be about her cross-dressing and they had counselling before they were married. Both agreed cross-dressing was something Debbie may need to do occasionally.
They were married in 2002 and in 2005 their daughter was born. During their marriage Debbie would dress up at home, however she realised this would never be enough. As her daughter became older, Debbie found it increasingly difficult to hide her true gender. By 2010, Debbie and her wife decided to end their marriage.
The next year, Debbie met a new partner who gave her the encouragement and confidence to be who she needed to be. April 2012 marked a momentous occasion as, with her partner, Debbie went out in public for the first time dressed as a woman. Euphoric and free to be herself, Debbie realised that she wanted to feel like this every day, for the rest of her life.
However, Debbie frequently faced people staring and making nasty comments in the street. Her sister also could not accept her change and refused to speak with Debbie unless it was as a man, while her mother has said she will never accept her transition. In July 2012, with the breakdown of her relationship and the lack of any immediate support of friends and family, Debbie faced a mountain of stress. This had a real impact on her, as Debbie became Bulimic with her weight dropping to 9/12 stone.
However, in August 2012, Debbie discovered Simone Thomas’ wigs in Bournemouth. After walking past Simone Thomas over 20 times, she finally plucked up the courage to go in. There she found a warm welcome and a hot cup of tea – she was accepted. Debbie got tips on how to choose the right wig for her as she was growing her hair, along with a range of beauty treatments and make up tips to help give her the much needed confidence she craved. Debbie says that meeting Simone, and the great team at Simone Thomas, helped her to see that she really could be the person she wanted to be and be accepted.
This was a turning point in her new life. She got the encouragement, acceptance and support from the team at Simone Thomas to join groups in the local community. It was at the local choir that she met her present partner. From there her housing situation changed and she made new friends in the local community. Life for Debbie started to change in a more positive direction.
Debbie still visits the Simone Thomas team on a regular basis for cuts, colour and blow drys now her hair has grown and she no longer feels the necessity to wear a transgender wig.
She says of her experiences at the salon:
“Simone and the entire team accepted me from day one as the person I wanted to be. I love going to the salon because they always give such great advice and always make me feel welcome. They treat me as the woman I am and I really couldn’t ask for any more! Now my hair has grown I no longer need to wear a wig, so I have been fitted with a volumizer which integrates with my own hair to give me the much needed volume on top. I can’t afford to have hair implants and this is the next best thing!”
“It has been a pleasure having Debbie as a client and seeing her transition over the 3 years from a very shy person into the confident lady she is. If we have been able to help Debbie’s confidence during this time then that means we have done our job!”
Debbie’s future plans include continuing hormone therapy and pursing surgical changes, which are necessary to allow her body to truly reflect who she is. She is often invited to speak at corporate events as a Transgender Spokesperson and has been actively involved in writing and advising on transgender policies in the workplace. She says:
‘I have gone to the extremes of being everything I wasn’t in order to find out what I am”.