Meeting Stephanie today, a glamorous and self-assured wife and business woman, it’s hard to imagine the confused little boy from St Albans she had once been all those years ago.
It may sound like an old cliché – but when it comes to transvestites and transsexuals, it really does take one to know one.
Unless you yourself have experienced the mental confusion of being a boy who wants to be a girl – full-time or part-time – you really haven’t a clue what it’s all about.
Doctors and psychiatrists might discuss it, daytime television presenters may discuss it, your wife or girlfriend might go along with it. But in truth, they can never really know how it feels.
Stephanie Anne Lloyd does know, simply because she was a boy who grew to be a woman. She doesn’t know why she was like that any more than you or I do – it’s just the hand we were dealt.
For Stephanie, it was a particularly tricky hand. Her previous male self – Keith Hull – came from a strictly religious background, was married with children he adored, and had a keith.jpghighly paid successful career in front of him. If he could just have lived his life “normally” as a man, he would have had it made.
But, for some reason he couldn’t understand, Keith had always just known he wasn’t like other boys – he grew to look like a man and act like a man, but acting the part was the closest he could get. Inside, under the protective shell he had created for the sake of normality, was the soul of a woman.
Many of you reading this might recognise his dilemma. Should Keith have carried on through life trying to play the role his parents and family expected, or should he have been true to his inner self – at whatever cost that could bring? Keith ultimately chose truth and took the path to becoming Stephanie – although the cost proved higher than even he could ever have imagined.
The affluent, highly respected family man found himself overnight tainted as an outcast. She suffered savage publicity, was shunned by her parents, her wife, her children and her friends. She lost her home, her job, and all the money she had. Some things, however, did remain. Her indomitable spirit and defiance of defeat. Stephanie was determined to put her experience, however painful it might have been for her, to some good use.
The result was Transformation, and a whole new beginning not only for Stephanie, but for TVs and TSs throughout the UK. Transformation was the very first business in the country to openly promote a specialist service for transvestites. Stephanie opened the closet door for us all.
Like so many transsexuals, Stephanie can’t put her finger on when she first realised she was different to her boyhood pals, but she will never forget the recurring dream that filled her nights from the age of five. A dream in which the young Keith was kidnapped and turned into a girl by a couple who had lost their daughter, and who wanted him to take her place.
By the age of seven Keith had discovered the dream could cross into reality, if only occasionally, in dressing-up sessions with his friends. They put on their own private plays, with Keith taking the girls’ roles whenever he could.
“I had always found my strange dreams frightening and confusing,” she explained. “Yet there was something about dressing as a girl that gave me a strange sense of contentment. Somehow, it seemed to feel right.
“The moment I put a dress on I felt less clumsy, more natural and more peaceful than I have ever remembered feeling before.”
With the benefit of hindsight, and the more enlightened times in which we live, it may seem surprising that it took Keith another 30 years to fully understand that sense of contentment. BUt back in 1953, boys were boys and girls were girls. No seven year old could think anything else, let alone the son of staunch Jehovah’s Witness parents.
And so started the long mental struggle against the inevitable, through puberty and teens, and into an early married life. Keith had always been popular with the girls, mainly because he found he could relate to them in a way that other boys just couldn’t. He and his future wife Marilyn seemed made for each other from the start, and by the time he was 21 they were married and settled in a modern semi-detached house in suburban Hertfordshire. The birth of twin boys seemed to seal their future.
In many ways, Keith appeared the perfect husband. His career was really taking off and in the office he was a shining star, but he still found time to take his share of the domestic role. Some fathers may have done it grudgingly, but Keith relished every minute.
“To bath my sons and watch them gurgle with joy as they splashed around in the water was a constant delight,” she said. “I was really in my element and couldn’t have felt happier”