A Sex Swap Op - At 18
11 March 2007
A SEX SWAP OP..AT 18
EXCLUSIVE BRITAIN'S YOUNGEST-EVER TRANSSEXUAL
By Sarah Arnold - Sarah.Arnold@Sundaymirror.Co.Uk
IN her low-cut dress Lucy Parker smiles confidently at the camera. She couldn't be more different than the picture of the 11-year-old boy in his school uniform with the pudding-basin haircut.
Yet the pictures taken seven years apart are of the same person. Richard Parker, schoolboy, has become Lucy Parker, the teenage girl who loves make-up and wearing the highest of high heels.
At 18 Lucy is the youngest transsexual in Britain. She started hormone treatment at 16 and has had an operation to give her breasts. In a few months her transformation will be complete after a final operation.
"Some people will say I am too young to have made this decision, but for me becoming a true woman can't come soon enough," says Lucy. "I have spent 16 years trapped in a man's body, but my soul is a woman's."
At the beginning of the year Lucy, who's a Size 8 and 5ft 10in tall, had 34C breast implants - an 18th birthday present from her mum Allison, 41.
In the next few months Lucy will undergo £10,000 sex reassignment surgery, possibly in Thailand, to remove her manhood and build a vagina. "After the operation I will be finally who I was meant to be," says Lucy who lives in Middlesbrough on Teesside.
Lucy may be only 18 but she talks with a maturity beyond her years of the changes she has undergone in her life and how she has never, ever doubted it was the only way she could face the future.
"When I was still very young I felt I didn't fit in," says Lucy. "I was about four when I asked my mum, 'Why am I different?' She didn't understand what I meant and, unfortunately, I was too young to explain it to her."
At school Lucy hated the rough-and-tumble of boys' games, and would secretly dress up at home in girls' clothes with her cousin Rachel.
"At home I used to play with my cousin a lot, we were like siblings. As we got older, she started to experiment with make-up and dressing up. We used to pretend she owned a salon and get our hair done and nails, make-up applied... badly! I can remember putting on one of my cousin's dresses and her high heels and thinking... transformation complete!
"I was caught three times by members of the family dressed up as a girl. They would tell me to get changed and tell off my cousin for dressing me up like that."
Allison, who split from Richard's dad when he was four, says that as a little boy Richard was a loner who didn't have many friends. "He was a melancholy little boy," she says. "He always preferred playing with the girls, but after I split up with my husband I took him along to the Cubs and got him involved in a football team."
It's a time Lucy hated. "I would rather have pulled each of my eyelashes out singly than join the Cubs or play football," she says.
"Each week I was there, I pretended to have asthma attacks so I could go home. I only went to football twice. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed throwing out those ugly football boots."
Approaching puberty as Richard, Lucy says she sank into a dark depression. "Senior school was hell. I was bullied every day, called a gay or a wimp. I was 14 and I still felt different. My body was changing and with every change I felt less comfortable in my own skin.
"I began smoking because I had heard it could stunt your growth and I wanted my body to stop growing. I didn't want my body to be healthy, because a healthy body meant a male body."
Richard's unhappiness led to Allison arranging for him to see a psychiatrist, but his feelings about being different suddenly became less confused in 2004 when Portuguese transsexual Nadia Almada won TV's Big Brother. "It sounds ridiculous," says Lucy. "But for the first time I recognised myself in someone else... Nadia, who'd had a sex change. Suddenly it made sense about who I really was."
And it gave Richard the courage to confide in his mum. "I asked her if she knew what was wrong with me and she asked if I was gay. It was then I told her I was a transsexual... a woman trapped in the wrong body."
The day after Richard told his mum he took his first steps towards his new life as Lucy. "I grew my hair and began wearing make-up to school," Lucy says. "Surprisingly, I didn't get as much bullying then."
Then, after leaving school at 16, Richard began living full-time as Lucy. But, wrongly as it turned out, she was convinced she wouldn't be allowed to begin hormone treatment to pursue her dream to be a woman until she was 18.
It made her feel so desperate she attempted suicide. "When I looked in the mirror I felt disgusted," says Lucy. "I hated what looked back at me and I tried to hang myself with a dressing gown cord. Mum heard me screaming and came and rescued me.
"Later that week I discovered a private clinic in Edinburgh and a specialist who might help me. And I found out I didn't have to be 18 to start hormone treatment." Now Lucy's life been transformed. As well as her new breasts, she has developed her own style. She likes to wear tailored trousers and vesttops and is never without a pair of heels, the higher the better.
She has worked in a day centre for the elderly but is now considering doing a beauty course to indulge her love of cosmetics.
"Some mornings when I am doing my make-up I can't believe how far I have come," says Lucy. "Legally I am able to have sex reassignment surgery soon and I have been talking to a surgeon in Thailand. I just need to be patient a little longer."
Like any other 18-year-old girl, Lucy dreams of a white wedding and meeting someone special.
"I won't have children, but I still hope to marry with a lovely white wedding dress and carrying red roses. And of course I will be wearing high heels, so I'll need a husband who's a least 6ft 2in!
"Richard is not a part of me now. I'm a totally different person - I am finally being me."
Mum Allison, who owns a fish and chip shop, says: "I gave birth to Richard and he was around for 16 years. Now I have Lucy. It's like I've had a son and a daughter and they are totally different. Of course it came as a surprise but as a mother all you want is to see your children happy and Richard was an unhappy, sullen little boy. Now I have a daughter who smiles and laughs.
"I accepted it straight away but at first I found it very hard to say Lucy. If I slipped up and said Richard, Lucy would say, 'Who?'.
"One of the first things I thought was, 'I'll never have any grandkids'. But ultimately I just want her to be happy. One of the neighbours used to like talking to Richard over the back fence, so when Lucy appeared I thought, 'I'm going to have to tell the neighbours'. But you know they just took it in their stride.
"I agreed to pay for Lucy's boob op as I want her to be happy. I wanted her to have a natural look not an inflated image like Jordan.
"The simple reason is Lucy is happier and actually talks to me and comes out her bedroom. Richard just hid away.
"And one of the other perks is we can go shoe-shopping together..."
I've been trapped in a man's body but my soul is a woman's. When I have the op my life will begin
It was only when Nadia appeared on Big Brother that I started to realise I was like her.. really a girl
Britain's Youngest Teen Transsexuals is on BBC3 on March 25 as part of the Body Image Series.
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