“I am a woman on a mission! But not just any woman and not just any mission.”
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS, IMAGE BY JAYNE WALSH
Well known and well-trusted within the transgender community, Katie Neeves is a trans ambassador providing trans awareness training and mentoring through her company and website Cool2BTrans.
She’s on a mission to show that it’s not only okay to be trans, but it’s actually cool to be trans too! However, Katie’s road to living openly as a trans woman who empowers others every day didn’t come easily.
Having been a professional photographer and filmmaker for 33 years, she came out very publicly in 2018 after living 48 years as a man. Speaking of her coming out, Katie told me: “My whole livelihood and reputation rested on the reaction to that one video. I got thousands of messages of support and felt so loved.” The more people who are educated about trans issues, the greater the acceptance and the easier it will be for them to live their lives in peace, and Katie is determined to stand up for the community in every way possible.
She eventually formed Cool2BTrans to reach out to other trans people to let them know there is positivity and acceptance ahead, and to show cisgender people that trans people are ordinary people who want to be safe, loved and happy – just like everyone else.
Her whole journey has been about authenticity and through media appearances, public speaking engagements, blogs, vlogs, social media, trans awareness training courses and support groups, Katie is reassuring people who are struggling with their gender identity and leading with a positive and inspiring example every single day.
Katie’s journey to accepting her trans identity began when she was a child and found comfort in wearing her sisters clothes. She told DIVA: “I remember around the age of four I was caught trying on my sisters clothes and when I did it, I felt right. But when my mum caught me she told me off. For the next week, every day she would pull my shorts down to check if I had them on and it was very humiliating.”
“But the need to cross dress, as it was then, was always there. I would secretly do it when I had the opportunity. Whenever I did it it felt right but that was teamed with feelings of shame and self loathing. I told myself every time that I would never do it again. I tried to hard to suppress it. However hard you try, the need always comes back.”
“With gender dysphoria it can vary in intensity and it often increases with time and that’s what happened for me.” It wasn’t until after Katie’s second marriage and an intense session with a clairvoyant that she eventually realised what her gender dysphoria meant.
“At the end of the session I admitted to myself that I was a transgender woman and I needed to change my body. That was the point where I truly felt female and when I knew that Martin had to step back and Katie could take over. Now I knew my true gender identity, what was I going to do with that information? I had no choice about being trans, that’s just who I am. The only choice I had was whether I did anything about it or not. The urge to live my truth was overwhelmingly strong so I had to face it head on.”
Katie continued: “A lot of bigotry and prejudice comes from fear of the unknown so if you take that unknown away, you’re doing a great thing. There needs to be more education about these issues and the easier it will be for other trans people to admit who they and allow themselves to live their best lives.”
A question that Katie often battles with surrounds her sexuality now that her gender identity has changed. She explains: “I have always been attracted to women and I still am. It’s been the one constant in my life. It’s just that the label has changed from heterosexual man to trans lesbian. And I wouldn’t want it any other way!”
“Now two of the letters of the LGBTQIA+ acronym apply to me. I’ve been welcomed so much. I love the DIVA Community. It’s been so welcoming and I’ve been so pleased because I did have doubts about it in the beginning. I’ve been so pleased that any transphobia that has gone on it’s been stamped out very quickly and I’ve really felt welcome there. I never felt the need to explore this community because I never thought I was a part of it, but I am welcome.”
As our conversation comes to an end, I ask Katie how we can all be better allies for the trans community. Without hesitation she says: “I think the main thing that allies can do is to stand up for trans people when they aren’t able to stand up for themselves. It might be the easiest thing to do to turn a blind eye and let it go. But say no and stand up for what it is.”
Only reading DIVA online? You’re missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It’s pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves.