Michelle has always wanted to identify as a woman. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

Emily Ireland

The journey of self-expression and claiming your identity is not an easy one.

But for Michelle, of Masterton, who now identifies as a woman, the journey has been worthwhile.

Michelle, who does not want her last name published has had a few “false starts” on her transgender journey.

Now embracing femininity “fulltime”, Michelle wished to share her story with the Midweek after facing harassment while shopping in Masterton.

Generally, people are pretty accepting, even in a rural community, she said.

Though, she admits her transition would have been “so much easier” in Wellington.

“I always knew I wanted to be female.

“Right from when I was young, I knew I was different.

“I used to get dressed up [in women’s clothing] at home and stand in front of the mirror.

“At night, as a release, I used to walk around the block wearing them.

“Then I thought, I can’t handle this, so I started coming into town dressed up.

“The first time I did it, it was a rainy day and I had an umbrella which was almost like a shield.

“I walked into Farmers, and the girls knew I was transgender, and they gave me a hug.”

Michelle said she wished she had begun her identity journey sooner, and what prompted her to take her feelings seriously was a prostate cancer scare a few years ago.

“They caught it early, but it made me think, well I’ve only got one life, I may as well become transgender.

“Once you start the journey, it becomes a lot easier.”

Michelle said she now feels “complete” and will be continuing her path to womanhood.

After being harassed recently, and having a soft drink thrown at her on the street, Michelle said she only had one thing to say to Wairarapa people.

“It’s my life. It’s who I am.”

“Live your own life as you want to and don’t be prejudiced towards other people.”