A FORMER Padbury man has recently celebrated her first ‘birthday’ as a woman.
Until four years ago, Delia Johnston, aged 55, who now lives in Milton Keynes, was businessman and technology specialist David Johnston.
Now, as Delia, she runs a Buckingham-based website dedicated to helping transexuals with all aspects of their transition.
She has been interviewed by The Independent newspaper and That’s Life! magazine and filmed by Channel 4 television.
“All my life I’ve known I was wrong,” said Delia.
“Most transgender people say things like, ‘I never felt I fitted in as a boy.’
“All my life I’ve suppressed Delia, to the point where you actually deny 100 per cent what’s going on.”
As a teenager, David Johnston was angry, aggressive and, in Delia’s words ‘extremely violent.’
He married 25 years ago and divorced four years ago.
“I was pretty useless in the marital department,” says Delia. “Even though I suppressed it, something was not right.”
David found he was having to struggle increasingly hard to suppress Delia.
“Lots of trans start surfacing between 45 and 55,” Delia says. “We all know about the mid-life crisis, when a lot of men go off and buy a red sports car or a Harley Davidson.
“You get to a certain point in life when your brain says I’ve had enough. You can’t suppress it any more.”
It was a trip to the Glastonbury Festival in 2009 that, in Delia’s words ‘lifted the lid on Pandora’s Box,’ when David finally faced up to his longing to be a woman and he sobbed for hours.
“For the next three months, I struggled desperately to put the lid back on Pandora’s Box,” she said. “The reality is you can’t.”
David did what many transexuals do, and attempted suicide.
Finally, in November 2009 he went to see his GP, who gave him a mighty telling off because he had already started taking hormones he was buying over the internet – a very dangerous thing to do. After taking advice from the gender clinic in London, his GP put David on a proper hormone programme requiring regular blood checks.
“Things changed and things grew,” said Delia. “It proved to me that deep down I wasn’t that masculine. The body was now mapping the brain.”
At the same time, he started dieting, dropping in weight from 17½ stone to 13 stone.
In December 2009, David told his children, followed by a few close friends.
At a New Year’s Eve party in Padbury Delia finally went public.
“At five minutes to midnight I was the old me,” she says.
“Five minutes after midnight, Delia was here. In a Hollywood kind of way, everything else fades out as effectively one life closed.”
In January 2010, Delia made her first public appearance in a skirt, at Pink Punters club in Fenny Stratford.
And in February 2010 she changed her name by deed poll, from David Francis Johnston to Delia Frances Johnston.
She is now living as a woman – part of the so-called Real Life Test which gender reassignment patients have to undergo before being accepted for surgery.
She talks with excitement about the challenge of creating a new persona.
“In January 2010 when Delia was born, it was like having a blank sheet of paper. Who and what is Delia going to be? I had the chance of remapping everything about myself.
“Everything I do is analysed and evaluated. I have massive self-determination. I want to make Delia the best I possibly can.
“For example, the old me could lie with total conviction, but Delia is scrupulously honest.
“Delia hardly drinks a drop of alcohol. I don’t need alcohol. I’ve got the body I always wanted – why abuse that body with alcohol?”
Under her GP’s supervision, Delia is taking oestrogen and anti-testosterone, which are dramatically changing her body.
Throughout 2010 she has had a complete wardrobe makeover, taken lessons in make-up, skincare and deportment and had laser treatment to remove her facial hair – all of which has been costly.
“I had six motorbikes two years ago,” she laughs. “Now I’ve got none.”
She is just about to embark on speech therapy to raise the pitch of her voice.
Delia is hoping to have gender reassignment surgery in summer 2012, after which she will be able to cut down on the massive doses of hormones she is taking.
Meanwhile, she has a stated aim to walk down a beach this summer ‘wearing a swimsuit and looking drop-dead gorgeous.’
Delia is now making it her mission in life to help others like herself and change people’s attitude to transexuals.
“I want to be out there talking about it openly and make people understand that people like me are not freaks of nature, we’re mistakes of nature,” she said.
“We are correcting what mother nature got wrong.
“People wouldn’t bat an eyelid if a child born with a disfigurement had corrective surgery.
“Society’s getting better with diversity but when it comes to gender issues, transexualism is roughly where society was 25 years ago with regard to race.”
Delia points out that chronic depression is very high among transexuals who have not started the transition and that about 50 per cent of them commit or attempt suicide.
She says she personally has already talked at least three people out of killing themselves.
“I want to educate and inform and stop this massive waste of life,” she said. “What it takes is people like me who are prepared to stand up. When I die I want to be able to say I’ve helped people.
“I work on the principle I was saved for a particular purpose.
“I have a skill set from my previous career and now it’s all coming together.”
She points out that this April will see the Public Service Duty Act come into effect, which will require any business wishing to deal with government bodies to show non-discrimination against transgender people.
She recently conducted staff training on the transgender issue at Milton Keynes College, and further opportunities are opening up for her all the time.
“I’m proof that you can turn your life around,” she says.
Visit Delia’s website at www.deliatransadvisory.com