Trans woman shares beautiful – but heartbreaking – tale of transitioning at 80
A retired trans firefighter has proven it’s never too late to be your true self after undergoing gender confirmation surgery at 80.
Isobel Jeffrey told Good Morning Britain on Friday (10 March) that she had always felt from an early age that her gender identity and her assigned sex didn’t match.
As a way to handle her feelings at the time, she began working jobs that made her feel more “manly,” including work as a sailor, which took her across the world.
But in her 70s, with the blessing of her wife Margaret, she decided to publicly transition into the woman she had wanted to be for more than 40 years.
“When I was younger, they were still, imprisoning homosexuals, trans people weren’t even talked about,” Isobel said.
“I had the support of a wonderful, wonderful wife who I shall have been married to for 60 years.”
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Isobel said her wife would support her by buying dresses that she would wear in the privacy of her own home.
After Margaret began to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, the two discussed their lives and came to the conclusion that life was too short for Isobel to hide her true self.
‘Whatever makes you happy dear’
Margaret was eventually taken to a care home after symptoms worsened, with Isobel saying she “doesn’t really know me anymore.”
“At 50, things were beginning to go wrong with Alzheimer’s,” she explained.
“We talked, as we have always done, about our lives and I said if I was to live any kind of life without her I wanted to become who I wanted to.
“She said what she told me a hundred times, ‘Whatever makes you happy dear.'”
After coming out as trans with the support of her lifelong partner, Isobel made efforts to present as her true gender and has never felt happier.
After coming to terms with her decision, she set a date to come out to her family in July 2018 and was met with nothing but love.
“It was mostly a good experience,” she said.
“95 per cent of people accepted me. I was upfront, you know, when I told them.
“Things went on from there, I had certain medical things I went to see my doctor for certain formalities and hurdles to jump.”
When asked whether she was nervous about coming out, she laughed: “Yes, but not quite as nervous as I am now.”
Isobel mentioned the incredibly long waiting times for NHS Gender Identity Clinics, which can see trans patients wait up to four years for a referral.
After gaining a doctor’s signature and other requirements, Isobel began taking hormones and eventually underwent gender confirmation surgery after reaching her 80s.
But the waiting time was so incredibly long she eventually decided to pay out of pocket for private surgery.
“When I was made redundant at 50 I offered my family certain things like a new car, you know, that sort of thing.
“They said, ‘No no no, it’s your money’, So credit to them.”
Also speaking to Good Morning Britain, Spire Yale Hospital’s Chris Seipp, who performed the surgery, said he was blown away when he met Isobel, who called the doctor a “wonderful, wonderful man”.
“It’s major surgery, it carries risks, there are complications,” he said.
“But you see Isobel there, you don’t even look at her chronological age when you see her. There is so much energy in her, there is so much life in her.
“Her motivation is just exceptional.”
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