Although I have always wished I'd been born a female, for most of my life I accepted (albeit reluctantly) the fact that I was male and indulged in cross-dressing to assuage my yearnings. It wasn't until my late 60s that I eventually began a 10 year journey to actually transition and realise my dream of living as a woman.
When I was young I was not even aware that it was possible to become female, or at least to be as female as it is now possible. Then throughout the years of Rose's and Repartee I was happy to cross-dress when I wished whilst remaining a strictly heterosexual male. It was not until I entered a period of semi-retirement (thanks to Bella Jay taking over editorship of Repartee magazine) and one of the few periods in my life when I was not renovating the house I was living in, that I eventually had the time to consider doing more about my dream of living as a woman. In 2007 I flew to Bangkok to undergo facial feminisation surgery and have breast implants. From then on I have lived as a woman full-time.
At that time I still did not want to go the 'full way' as I remained sexually attracted to women and still entertained the increasingly forlorn hope that I might one day find a female partner even though I knew my new lifestyle was making it more difficult to achieve this dream.
But by 2011 I had practically given up hope of finding a female partner and even if I did, I thought it would likely be more of a lesbian affair. As by that age I was pretty impotent anyway I felt there was no point in hanging on to my male bits and having lived successfully as a woman for four years I felt more the desire to complete the process.
I got a referral from my doctor to attend the Sheffield Gender Identity Clinic and I also needed an assessment from a psychiatrist, but it took 18 months from the initial doctor's referral before I eventually got my first appointment at the clinic in November 2012. After several appointments at the clinic during which I seemed to go over the same ground many times with different consultants, in September 2013 I was eventually prescribed the hormones which I had been waiting so long to obtain.
At first the only effect from the hormones I noticed was sensitivity of my nipples (there had been none to speak of before). But after a blood test my hormone levels were found not to have changed sufficiently so the dose was increased. I was prescribed Evorel HRT patches which are often prescribed to post-menopausal women but whereas they take them to reduce hot flushes, I found I am now getting them. However after over 2 years of the patches I did feel my breasts had increased and become more natural looking. I was also having leuporelin injections every 3 months which reduces the levels of testosterone and estrogen circulating in my body.
In March 2014 I changed my name officially to Martine Rose by Deed Poll which was a condition of finally obtaining approval for my surgery from the Sheffield clinic. I also needed a second opinion from another clinic so in June 2014 I had an appointment at the Leeds GIC but it wasn't until the end of October that the approved came through.
However it was at this time I was recovering from a major operation following a gall bladder procedure that had gone wrong. So there was some delay before an approach was made to the surgeon Mr Oliver Fenton, who would be doing my gender reassignment surgery. I finally got to see him at a private hospital near Wakefield in July 2015 and was give a date for the actual surgery in March 2016.
In the meantime I was having to have electrolysis treatment to remove the hairs from my genitals which is necessary because the skin of my penis and scrotum would eventually form my vagina and labia and I could not have hairs growing inside me. The electrolysis was an extremely painful procedure and I had to endure many sessions before I was deemed sufficiently clear.
I had my surgery on17th March 2016. The surgery itself went well and I was able to return home after 7 nights but my recovery was not without problems including persistent urine infections. It was not painful but it took about a year before I could say I was fully recovered.
It has all been a very long haul: it was five years from the date I first sought a referral from my doctor until I eventually had my operation. At my time of life (I was 76 when I had the op), the long wait was extremely frustrating as I'm very conscious that there can't be that many years left for me to enjoy being the woman I have always wanted to be throughout my life. But it is all done now and I'm very content with my new lifestyle.