Marilyn’s second pregnancy was a difficult one, and in her sixth month she was confined to bed with a threatened miscarriage. Despite his demanding job, Keith took on looking after his wife, the two young children and all the housework.
“It makes me smile now when I think about the midwife who used to call round to check up on Marilyn’s progress. How it used to amuse her to see me struggling with a baby under each arm and a vacuum cleaner in one hand. ‘You know,’ I remember her saying to me once, ‘you would make someone a wonderful wife.'”
f508_1391.jpgA wonderful wife, certainly, yet Keith could never make a wonderful husband, however much he tried. He loved Marilyn deeply, but he had always found it hard to show this in the traditional masculine way, between the sheets. After a while, he found it impossible.
He sought advice from his doctor, and then from a psychiatrist who eventually suggested hypnosis. Although Keith knew little of what he had said while he was in a hypnotic state, Marilyn was present during the session and heard all that went on. It was the turning point in both their lives.
What Marilyn had heard, combined with her knowledge of Keith’s childhood recurrent dream and his lack of masculinity in so many ways convinced her that she had found the root of his problems. It was she who persuaded her husband the following evening to try on a dress, for the first time since childhood, and to sit patiently while she made up his face. He felt self-conscious and a little silly, yet at the same time he experienced that inner peace he remembered from his childhood dressing. It was as if his inner soul and outer appearance were finally being resolved.
In fantasy fiction, of course, that would have been the happy ending. Real life is far more complicated than that…
Just being told you are a woman in a man’s body is no solution. Keith, after months of desperation following that initial revelation, could see no way out of his turmoil – bar one, suicide.
He was brought back from the very edge, having written a farewell letter to Marilyn and actually counting out the tablets in his hand, by the timely intervention of a friend’s phone call. He was persuaded to change his mind, and agreed to put thoughts of death behind him. He encouraged Marilyn to take a lover, to meet her natural physical needs, and she in turn helped him with research into his condition and what could be done to help him.
The only sensible course of action open to him was gender reassignment and eventually Keith, with Marilyn’s support, took the biggest decision of his life to start that long and painful process of becoming a woman.
The gender reassignment process began through a specialist psychologist at Manchester’s Wythenshawe Hospital and then with Dr Russell Reid at Charing Cross Hospital in London.
With hormone treatment and electrolysis, Keith’s appearance soon began to change. He had to live a double life, showing his psychologist that he could pass as a woman in London yet still hold down his job as a man in the North, where he and Marilyn were then living. It meant keeping his jacket on and wearing larger shirts to hide his growing breasts.
The change in his appearance, and the general feminising effect on his nature of the hormones was more than Marilyn could face. She opted out, taking the children to live with their mother down South. Keith’s long line of sacrifices to become Stephanie had begun.
Over a long number of months, Keith slowly became Stephanie. He had lessons in make-up and deportment, and learnt to dress as a woman, act as a woman and speak as a woman. When the time came for the final operation, Stephanie would be as ready as she could be to face the world.
She knew by then some of the problems she was to face. Her father had told her he would disown her if she went ahead with the operation, Marilyn was gone, and the children had become distant. However, at least she had her job being kept open for her. Keith Hull was officially leaving the post of marketing director to be replaced by Miss Stephanie Anne Lloyd.
The sex change itself took place on September 12th 1983, the day that Stephanie was really ‘born’ – at the age of 37 – as a fully grown woman. As she came round from her operation, with the surgeon standing beside her bed, it was a moment of intense and unrivalled emotion for her.
“I was exultant, there’s no other word for it. I’d come through and now I was truly a woman. There was nothing left to fear.
“I had tears of pure joy streaming down my face. I could only look at the eyes of the surgeon – my ‘creator’ – and pray that he understood my gratitude. He’d given me back my life.”
Stephanie was full of hope after the operation, and despite the pain felt happier than she had ever been. However, it wasn’t long before she received her next body blow. The press had been intrigued by titbits they’d heard about the senior executive who was swapping pin stripes for stilettos. Within days of returning to work, she found herself splashed across banner headlines in the Daily Mirror.
Her firm got the jitters about the effect of the publicity on their institutional shareholders, and suggested she should resign. Suddenly she was unemployed.
Then came the divorce hearing, when Marilyn turned against the woman she had played a part in creating. She went for the jugular and Stephanie, not wanting to fight her wife and children, ended up with nothing – not even a bed to sleep on.