A World War Two veteran has begun the process of transition into a woman – at the age of 90.
Patricia Davies, who was born as Peter, has spent her whole life as a man, despite knowing since the age of three that she was female.
Ms Davies, a retired industrial photographer from Leicestershire, said she feared living openly as a woman because she grew up at a time when transgender people were ostracised and she feared the electric shock ‘therapy’ that some were subjected to.
Ms Davies, then called Peter, served in the British Army between 1945 and 1948 – something she would not have been barred from doing had she come out as transgender.
“I’ve known I was transgender since I was three years old,” she said, according to the Daily Mirror. “I knew a girl called Patricia, and I decided I wanted to be known by that name but it didn’t stick.”
She married aged 21 and, almost 40 years later, eventually told her partner how she felt about her gender. Her wife, who has since passed away, was supportive and bought Ms Davies jewellery and dresses to wear around the house.
“I was 60 when it all came pouring out to my wife. She was very sympathetic and helped me all the way, but we agreed to keep it quiet,” she said.
Ms Davies did begin wearing high heels for a short period but stopped after teenagers abused her and threw eggs at her window.
Now, the 90-year-old has begun taking the female hormone oestrogen to help her transition into a woman.
She has also come out to her friends and neighbours and has been met with a largely positive response.
“It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” she said. “I was living a lie.”
“I have been keeping quiet. I have slowly started to tell some of my neighbours. Everybody said, ‘Don’t worry, as long as you’re happy’.”
Ms Davies decided to finally speak out about her true gender identity after watching the film Boy Meets Girl, which features a transgender woman living in Kentucky, USA.
She said the increased coverage of transgender issues in the arts and the media had helped convince her that it was safe to be open about her desire to be a woman.
“It’s not 100 per cent safe now but it’s much better than it was,” she said. “People that I have told seem to be very accommodating and haven’t thrown abuse at me.”
“I joined the Women’s Institute. I socialise with them and have a natter. I’m having a great time. I have a new lease on life.”