At an age where some are considering plans for retirement, one Lancashire woman is turning back the clock and starting all over again.
Micshania Stanton, from Chorley, is due to undergo gender reassignment surgery on her 58th birthday, and says that she can’t wait to be “reborn.”
She said: “I’ve had this desire to be female from about the age of 14 but to be honest I only really came out as being transgender probably from about 2012 onwards.
“I’ve been married since 1981 but myself and my wife separated when I began my transition four years ago. It’s been difficult.”
The couple have two children, a son aged 22 and a daughter aged 30, who Micshania says are finding it difficult to come to terms with her transition.
“My son doesn’t get it — he tries to get it but doesn’t — and it’s the same for my daughter.
“There’s been a family bereavement — basically, the person who was Mike no longer exists.
“They have a dad and they still call me dad, not that I’d say I’m comfortable with that, but they do.
“My biggest wish is to have my son and my daughter there next to me [after my operation].
“That would just be awesome.”
Micshania worked as an engineer before being made redundant a year after starting her transition in 2012.
She decided to pursue a course at Preston’s College in beauty therapy and is now trying to forge a new career offering holistic treatments and make-up classes to transgender clients after spotting a gap in the market.
Micshania explains: “A lot of transgender people may not feel comfortable going to a non-transgender person and I think it’s very important to have someone out there who people do feel comfortable with.
“I welcome everyone of course but I think it’s important for there to be someone there for people who perhaps would prefer to be treated by someone who knows what they’re going through.”
Figures published last year showed that the number of adults undergoing gender reassignment treatment on the NHS in England had increased 74 per cent over the last 10 years, with this figure on the rise.
This has caused a knock-on effect on waiting times, with some patients having to wait for up to five years before their procedure.
Taz Hyland, of the East Lancashire LGBT support group, believes longer waiting times may be contributing towards suicidal feelings among transitioning transgender patients. He said: “A lot of trans people do feel suicidal or feel like they don’t belong any more.
“They struggle with day to day life because they want to be that person they feel like inside but all the waiting or even getting refused for surgery causes them to feel even worse about themselves.”
Micshania adds: “Suicide is very prevalent in the trans community, so much so that when you undergo gender reassignment treatment you’re routinely asked on several occasions if you’ve considered committing suicide.
“I’m determined not to go down that path — I have too much to live for.”
Prejudice against transgender people, or transphobia, is also an issue for people in Micshania’s situation.
She says that she’s been lucky enough not to have experienced abuse on a large scale, but it’s something that still affects the transgender community in general.
“Unfortunately it’s very true to say that there is still a lot of transphobia out there,” she said.
“I’m quite a confident person but there are lots of trans men and women who can’t even bear to walk to the shops alone as people sometimes stare and make comments.
“My attitude is, if that person across the road has a problem with me, that’s their problem, not mine.”
After a four -year journey, Micshania’s gender reassignment surgery will take place on October 6 — the day of her birthday.
She chose this day specifically, considering it to be symbolic, explaining: “I’m going to enter that operating theatre aged 58, then wake up afterwards just a few hours old.
“It’s like I can finally start living the life of who I was meant to be.”