Graham Pascoe appeared every inch the alpha male. A successful businessman living on a 40-acre farm in North Yorkshire with his wife and two children, life appeared to be rosy.
But despite the trappings of his success, the 55-year-old had a secret he carried around with him every waking moment – inside he felt he was a woman.
Graham – who now goes by the name of Sue – was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in August 2014.
And while Sue feared she would lose everything by transitioning, the need to become a woman was all-encompassing.
As a result, she was left devastated when doctors told her she would potentially have to wait up to four and a half years to have gender correction surgery on the NHS.
‘If I had to wait that long I would have been dead,’ says Sue, ‘and that’s not just me being dramatic. To save my own life, I had to become Sue.’
Instead Sue turned to help from abroad, visiting acclaimed gender surgeon Dr Narendra Kaushik, head of Olmec Cosmetic Surgery, in Delhi, India, in November 2014.
Sue underwent breast augmentation surgery, as well as botox and stem cell injections, and also embarked on a course of advanced hormone treatments before leaving to return to the UK.
She subsequently returned to Dr Kaushik’s clinic in March 2015 for full gender correction surgery, as well as a range of facial surgery including cheek and chin implants, a nose job, a mini face lift and liposuction under her chin.
In total Sue has spent £9,000 on surgery – although she estimates the bill could have been more than £40,000 if she had had the work done privately in the UK.
Sue was reborn as a woman on March 8 – International Women’s Day – and while she is still recovering from the invasive surgeries, she has no doubt that she has made the right decision.
‘Suddenly all the last vestiges of being my male self were gone and I was who I truly am inside and it is hard to express in words just what a feeling of joy and peacefulness that is,’ says Sue.
I’ve acted my personality for 54 years – it’s a long time to be in the acting profession without an Equity card.’
On 2 September 2014 Sue had her ‘last male day’ – going 10-pin bowling and for a burger in Newcastle with her two boys.
‘My sons have been very supportive and even wished me happy mother’s day – now, I will never be their mother, I’m their dad – even if it’s a female dad!’ she says.
Sue is now planning to set up a charity to help other transgender people wanting to travel abroad for surgery and educate others on what it means to be trans.
‘I hope that by raising some money this could be a little oasis for people who are trans, who want a safe place,’ she explains.
‘When I made my decision to become Sue I thought I would lose my family, I’d lose my farm, I’d lose my business, that people would ostracise me and not want to do business with me anymore.
‘I thought that I would have to leave the country to get the operation done and then go live somewhere else with a new life.
‘That is the basis on which I made my decision and it just hasn’t been like that. My sons have been very supportive, as have the majority of my friends and the people I meet.’
And while Sue and her wife are currently divorcing, Sue says she would like to meet a new partner in the future.
‘I would love to have a long-term relationship with a loving partner who I would regard as my friend and soulmate, yes I would, but wouldn’t everybody?’ she says.
‘It’s funny, I’m 55, I am very hormonal, I am going through puberty again which means that I am just getting to my teenage girl years – so watch out world.’