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Aug 18 2004

By Jane Simon


ONLY her mother and younger brother know the truth. For most of her life Anna Taylor has lived with the secret that she was born a boy.

While Big Brother's Nadia merely kept the fact that she was a transsexual woman from her housemates, Anna hid the truth of her gender from the world.

Anna, 45, has been married twice and neither of her husbands knew - or even suspected - that she had been born a boy.

WELL HIDDEN: Anna does not want her friends to marry

Now Anna has decided to share her amazing secret with The Daily Mirror.

"I want people to know that the successful transsexual stories are the ones you never hear about," Anna, from Cleethorpes, Lincs, explains.

It is estimated there are 5,000 transsexual people in the UK, but Anna, a senior government officer, is convinced there's another 3,000 who prefer to keep their secret.

"You could be sat next to us on a bus or in a bar and you'd never know our past," says Anna. "We just blend in and live our lives like anyone else.

"I've lived two thirds of my life as a woman and I never wonder what would it have been like if I'd been born a girl because it wouldn't have felt any different.

"I didn't need the operation to feel like a girl because I already felt like one. I had the operation so I could have sex like other women."


Anna was born in nearby Grimsby, and from the beginning doctors knew there was something wrong.

"I was what is known as 'intersexed'," she says. "Genetically, I was male but my genitalia was very small and only one testicle had descended."

Doctors advised her parents not to register her birth or sex straight away, but to wait and see how she developed and to pick a name such as Robin that works for a boy or girl.

But Anna was a first child and her father wanted a boy.

"Within a week he registered my birth with a very masculine name," she says. "When I was four, I was playing with two other little girls and they looked at my tiny penis and asked why they hadn't got one.

"It never occurred to me that I was a boy. I just wondered why I had something extra. I had sessions with a child psychologist and my parents were told to bring me up neutrally. My mother tried, but my dad would slap me if he caught me playing with dolls.

"My mother says that if it had been up to her she would have banged on every door to let me become a girl, but my dad wouldn't stand for it."

Anna ran away from home several times until, aged eight, she went to live with her grandparents who were prepared to bring her up as a girl.

"I missed my mum terribly, but I didn't miss the arguments over me. She would visit every week, but I had no contact with my father or younger brothers and sisters."

She was still going to school in Grimsby and dressing as a boy but when she was 11, she started at a new school in Cleethorpes where the headmaster was very sympathetic and agreed to let her register as a girl.

"For the first time no one was laughing at me. From being very withdrawn, I became very bubbly and outgoing.

"The only allowance they made was that I had to change in a separate cubicle for games and use the teachers' toilets. The school was afraid of another girl seeing something they shouldn't.

"I got very depressed when the other girls started wearing bras. My own doctor wouldn't prescribe hormones for me at 13, so my grandmother took me to Amsterdam to find a doctor who would.

"Within a few months I'd grown very small breasts. Doctors agreed that I should have had gender reassignment surgery when I was younger but now that I was an adolescent, I would have to wait until I was 18."

When Anna got a Saturday job and needed a National Insurance number her school wrote a letter confirming that she was living as a girl, and all her official documents since then - her passport and driving licence - show her as a woman.

WEDDING NO. 1: Anna met Paolo at university. They'd been married for 13 years when he died

Just three days after her 18th birthday, Anna underwent gender reassignment surgery.

"It would cost 3,000 if I just wanted everything removing, a good cosmetic appearance and a vagina. Or it was 4,000 if I wanted more depth and my small penis to be repositioned and trimmed so I could have orgasms. I paid the extra 1,000.

"I was in hospital for three weeks and two weeks after I came out, I was ready for a test run. I went to a disco with the sole intention of picking up a man for sex.

"I looked for one who was trendy and attractive. I didn't want a virgin or someone who'd be glad of anything he could get!

WHEN I'd found the perfect guy, he took me home and wanted to light candles but I made him do it with all the lights on.

"I had to make sure that it not only felt OK but looked OK. I have a faint scar on my tummy and I've been told it would take a gynaecologist to tell the difference, but I had to find out.

"Afterwards, he asked for my phone number but I gave him a false one because he was just an experiment. I had a few more experiments after that and remember being complimented on my wonderful muscle control."

She met Paolo, her first husband at university. "He was Italian and very good looking. When we eventually started seeing each other I tried to tell him before we slept together.

"I asked him how important children were to him because I was sterile. If he wanted a family there was no point to our relationship.

"He said I was more important to him than children and we could always adopt. But I told him I'd need a brain transplant to do that because I'm not at all maternal.

"He said he still loved me and when we finally made love, I thought I was going to hit the ceiling. He was very experienced, very romantic - and very sexy.

"So I told him I'd had a genetic problem when I was younger and had had an operation to correct it.

"He said, 'These are childhood things. Why do we need to talk about it now?' I thought he'd understood what I was trying to say."

WEDDING NO. 2: She bumped into teacher Steve in a car park. They separated after five years

Using her passport to confirm her identity, Anna never realised that her marriage to Paolo wasn't lawful because, according to her birth certificate she was still, officially, a man.

"Because I was born intersexed I could have had my birth certificate amended, but I never bothered.

"We were married for 13 years and it was a very happy, very normal marriage.

"We had a wonderful sex life and we both loved sport, travelling and the outdoors. When he died of cancer I was devastated."

After Paolo's death she had a two-year relationship before she literally bumped into the man who became her second husband. Steve was a teacher and she reversed into his car in a supermarket car park.

"We were married for five years and although this time I knew the marriage wasn't lawful, I kept quiet.

"It never crossed my mind to tell Steve - what purpose would it serve?"

Anna and Steve are now separated and nine months ago she met a new man, Mark, in an art gallery in London.

"He lives in the States so we've only seen each other three times but we speak every day on the phone.

"Mark told me a lot of personal details about himself and one night on the phone I decided to tell him I had been born a boy.

"He just replied, 'That must have been awful for you.'

"The next time I saw him he was overly caring which really got on my nerves. He kept asking me if I was really enjoying sex . Was he doing it right? I hated all that concern.

"That's why I haven't told anyone else until now and why I'm wearing a wig in these photos to hide my long, dark hair so my colleagues still won't recognise me.

"I wouldn't lose any friends if they knew the truth, but I don't want their concern. I don't want people saying, 'Well, you could never tell.'

"That's why I worry for Big Brother's Nadia and hope she doesn't regret coming out.

"She wants to be accepted as a woman - but I hope for her sake she isn't just accepted as a very good transsexual."

-All names have been changed to protect the identity of Anna's husbands and their families.


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