MIRANDA Lee has suffered harassment, violent attacks, and depression since undergoing a sex change.
Born Raymond Harwood, Miranda, 40, always felt different growing up with her adopted family in Benfleet.
Now living in Southend, she tells her story:
"I always say it’s important to have a sense of humour about things.
I have gone through a lot, but I’m still resilient. I’m not naturally a downbeat person, I’m naturally quite positive.
I honestly feel I’ve never had a male thought in my life. To me I am a woman, and my goal has always been to make the outside match the inside.
As a child I always felt as though I was the one getting blamed for everything – if anything got broken, I was blamed.
I was naughty at home back-chatting, and then at school. I think I had a lot of pent-up anger I didn’t understand.
I always knew there was something different about me. At Christmas, my brother and I would get a toy car and my sister would get a doll. I would always want the doll.
When I was 16, I wanted to tell my mum how I felt, but I was too scared. Instead, I stuck a note to the sewing machine telling her I wanted a sex change. She was good about it, and before she passed away she said I was the other daughter she never had. My dad still calls me Ray and “mate”, and so do my brother and sister.
It makes me sad we can’t leave the past behind us.
I had my sex change on July 19, 2009 – my birthday. It was the best present I could have asked for. It was very important to me to have that done because it was my first goal and my next goal is to have the breast implants.
Once that is done I will be able to draw a line under it and start living life.
It might surprise people to know I would one day like to join the police force. I want to do more to change the way people think of transsexuals so they are no longer victimised.
A lot of people do not understand the difference between transsexual, transvestites and gay people. Transsexuals are born women, but have male bodies, transvestites enjoy wearing women’s clothing and gay men are attracted to other men. Those are important differences.
When you are a transsexual you find a lot of people are very aggressive towards you even though you have done nothing to them. The anger men seem to have towards me I put down to not understanding me, not knowing what I have gone through to get to where I am.
I was beaten up recently and in the past I have been on the receiving end of bullies. I can spot a bully a mile off, and have lived with them my whole life.
I do have regrets. I left school with no qualifications and then drifted from one job to another, never really settling anywhere.
I married three times and have two children I do not see. Wearing women’s clothes was part of my life even then, and my ex-partners said it was like living with another woman.
If I think about my children too much it makes me cry, but I don’t want to contact them if it would destroy their lives. I would if they wanted to contact me when they are an age where they can understand.
Eventually, I would like all the things everyone wants in their life – to find the right person, settle down and maybe have a family."
Miranda Lee was talking to Louise Mackenzie.