Woman who was born as a boy
LAURA Meads is slim, sexy and very feminine. It’s almost impossible to believe she was born a boy.
The 28-year-old, who took her name from the late pop singer Laura Branigan, had surgery a month ago – the first of several operations she will have on her journey to becoming a full woman.
“This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life,” she told Weekend Argus this week.
Sitting next to her is her fiancée, Jessica Venter, who also changed from male to female.
The two, who both do instore promotional work across the Western Cape, met online on a transgender dating site two years ago and say it was love at first sight.
They plan to marry in a year and hope to adopt children.
“I would like a little girl whom I can spoil,” Meads said.
She looks radiant and relaxed but life hasn’t always been this good.
Growing up in Panorama with her parents and two sisters, Meads said even as a child she always felt different.
“I was uncomfortable in my skin but couldn’t place what was wrong.”
As a young boy she loved dressing in his mom’s clothes but conformed to some extent when she went to school.
“But I was very effeminate. I was bullied at school.”
Meads, like everyone else, thought she was gay and even had a boyfriend.
It was only when she was 19 and saw a television show featuring transgendered people that she realised who she was.
“I knew instantly that was me and so I went looking for help.”
But her doctor and even psychologists proved ignorant and one tried to talk her out of it.
“He said he wouldn’t recommend transitioning because it ‘messed people up’.”
She was so depressed at one point that she attempted sui- cide, said Meads.
Meads was eventually put in touch with a doctor at Groote Schuur, which recently opened a transgender clinic, and was scheduled for surgery.
The couple say there is still quite a lot of ignorance around, especially in the white Afrikaans community.
Meads said people confused transgendered people with those who are intersex.
Everyone wanted to know if they were like Caster Semenya, the track star who was alleged to be intersexed in newspaper articles.
Venter said there was also a fair bit of discrimination in the workplace. “I think people are scared it might influence their business negatively.”
Meads said she was not con- cer ned about the publicity from a new book which features her – Trans: Transgender Life Stories from South Africa.
“Being transgendered makes you a strong person. I’m used to the name-calling.”
She is writing her own story and plans to pursue a music career. “I used to do drag performances. I’d like to get back into music – this time as me.”