The 6ft ex-soldier who has won a personal war - by becoming a woman

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The 6ft ex-soldier who has won a personal war - by becoming a woman

Post by Cutaway on Sun 16 Mar 2008, 5:41 pm

A little over a year ago, Ian Hamilton was a 6ft, 16-stone captain in the Parachute Regiment a much-decorated career soldier who had served at the sharp end of every major conflict of the past two decades, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

Then Ian realised he really was a woman in a man's body. He changed his name to Jan Hamilton and, thanks to female hormones and extensive plastic surgery, became an elegant size 12 who could turn heads at any cocktail party.

Jan's family disowned her, the Army summarily dismissed her. Now Jan accompanied by a Channel 4 TV crew has travelled to Thailand for the final, irreversible operation to change her, at last, into a woman. Here is her moving story...

Three weeks before I was due to travel to Thailand to have the final, complex and painful operation that would change me from man to woman, I began the last stages of my preparation.

The recovery from the gruelling series of operations I had last summer to feminise my face and give me breasts had been long and difficult. I suffered three months of blinding headaches, nausea and loss of balance.

It's not easy at the age of 43, but I steadily built up my fitness as my recovery progressed. The only way I could rationalise what I was going through was to treat it as a military deployment. That, at least, was a world I knew.

I was being told to stop taking my female hormone medication. At my age, oestrogen can act as a blood-thickening agent and could put me at risk of deep vein thrombosis. I was approaching the most important event of my life the operation and the change in my hormones was making me confused and deeply distressed.

With my mind turning cartwheels, I mentally replayed the story of my life. I reflected on the biological fact that all foetuses are conceived as female and that gender is determined at some time in the first three months of development. I believe that in my case the gender assignment got confused. I was meant to be a girl, but somehow turned out to be a boy.

I remembered how confused I had been as a child, avidly consuming Westerns and war movies and anything "male" in an attempt to make sense of my world. I absorbed all the lessons about boys being tough and never crying and I eventually chose the most stereotypically male occupation I could possibly find. I became a paratrooper.

Looking back, I was a confused and angry young man. The rampant testosterone of adolescence and early adulthood nearly drove me mad. I can only equate it to trying to run a petrol engine on diesel. I constantly stalled and misfired.

I was reasonably successful as an officer, yet each time I was on the cusp of achievement, breakdown loomed. My anger constantly destroyed what I had built. And the withdrawal symptoms after stopping my oestrogen medication were having the same, undesirable effect all over again.

As the days to the operation drew closer, I could feel myself becoming more angry, more emotional, more withdrawn and more confused. I also knew how much the operation would hurt, at least I thought I did. My facial surgery had been excruciating it was a major reconstruction of the bones of my face and I had been unconscious for nearly 14 hours.

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