Woman who was born as a boy

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - HE­LEN BAM­FORD

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.”

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