Lisa Kelly

Transgender/LGBT activist
AGE: 49

I first knew that i was different when i was about 5 years old, but back then i had no idea what it was.

It was the early 1970's and i found myself wanting to play with the girls and join in their games, but this led to verbal bullying, and things didn't improve much going into the 1980's and secondary education, but by this time i was starting to know a little more about myself, how i felt at ease and comfortable when just wearing my mums clothes, although they did drown me.

It wasn't until i actually left school in the mid 80's that i found out that you could change your gender, but i couldn't possibly do that in the small town where i lived, a town where everyone knew you or knew someone who knew you.

The 1980's were very homophobic, and being transgender was something you didn't anything about, there was no internet in those days, and leaving the 80's behind i tried to hide my true self behind a marriage, like so many other LGBT people.

It was in the days of wedded hell that i found the internet, and began to look up information, it became clear that i needed to move to city, where nobody knew me.

It took me until 2011 to move to York, and that's when i started my transition, stockpiling imported hormones, something i would advise against, and growing my hair. I began to live part time as Lisa, doing my shopping as Lisa and going on nights out in Leeds as Lisa, gaining confidence along the way and by the time i went to my GP in 2012 i was pretty much living full time as Lisa, except for work and visits to the bank and nights out in York . Early 2013 saw me informing my bosses at work of my intention to change gender, which went very well, and also informing family and by late Spring i was informing work colleagues, which went far better than i had expected, so well in fact that by the end of that week i was happy enough to let workmates get a glimpse of Lisa on a night out in York, the first time York would get to see Lisa too.

That night went fantastically well until we got a packed out pub, it's there that i heard the word 'Tranny' bouncing round the room and suddenly my confidence sank, until i was tapped on the shoulder and had a young woman say 'there's a tranny over there', well that was a huge relief for me, but at the same time i felt so sorry for the person the comment was aimed towards, what if it was their first time out in public, testing the water to see if they could survive as a female, to this day i have never seen that person again.

That day lived on in my memory, each and every day during those first 2 years of living as Lisa full time, including at work, i found i was very self conscious and was forever wondering if the odd 2nd glance i got from people was because they could tell i was transgender, my thoughts and emotions were all over the place due the hormones, eventually they settled down, and eventually i became less worried about what people thought and concentrated on just being myself. It was that night out though that galvanised my thinking, why does it have to be so hard just to survive, to treat each day as a small victory, these thoughts took me towards working on educating people about transgender issues.