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Thursday, January 12, 2006

'I want to be a woman'

EDP24
CHRIS BISHOP

10 January 2006 08:02

A senior director of a Norfolk hospital has revealed to the world that he wants to become a woman, saying he has found his true identity at last.

Colin Bone, medical director and senior consultant in gynaecology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn, will take three months' leave later this year to begin “gender reassignment”.

He will return to work at the hospital in the autumn, from when he will be known as Miss Celia Macleod, taking his mother's maiden name.

Last night Mr Bone, 60, said: “It's been a long, slow and hard struggle - like it has for most people. The hardest thing of all is coming out to yourself.

“The support I have had from this organisation fills me with pride and humility. I feel a great deal of admiration for the efforts people have made, it makes me feel really humble.”

Mr Bone has been married to Gloria for 35 years. The couple, who have a 27-year-old son called Alan, intend to remain together in their home at Flitcham, near King's Lynn.

“We have every intention of staying together, she's a truly remarkable woman to whom I owe a lot,” said Mr Bone.

“As I've been on a journey to come out and be myself, she's not been far behind me.

“The most difficult thing was actually recognising who and what I should be. Part of the pressure is internal pressure, pressure not to offend.

“My son has been terrific. He has given support not only to me but to his mother as well.”

Mr Bone is a transsexual, who suffers from a condition called gender dysphoria, which is believed to be caused by the mother's hormones being disturbed during the early weeks of pregnancy.

While sufferers have the physical body of a man, they feel they should really have been born a woman.

“I've been aware of gender issues since before I was 10 years old, so this has been living with me for half a century,” said Mr Bone.

“I had some very strange times in puberty and adolescence, but this was not long after the Second World War and social standards and mores being what they were, one did one's best to conform.”

Mr Bone, who has been medical director at the QEH since 2002, believes thousands of people could be affected by dysphoria.

“There seem to be more people coming out of the woodwork, my hunch is we will find the frequency of this is one person in 4000, that's a lot of people and a lot of heartache,” he said.

He said anyone who needed advice could seek information online from organisations like The Gender Trust.

Mr Bone will begin gender reassignment therapy in early June. This includes hair removal, hormone therapy and speech coaching.

If these are successful, he will have a full sex change operation a year later.

He is paying to have the £50,000 course of treatment done privately at a London specialists.

In a statement, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital NHS Trust said: “The transition is being made with the full knowledge of the hospital trust board and chief executive, with whom Colin has been open and frank about his intentions.

“The board and professional colleagues, along with his wife and family, will continue to give Colin/Celia support as necessary during what is certain to be a challenging time in both his professional and personal life.

“The Trust has written to all his current patients this week with a personal explanation.”

Hospital chief executive Ruth May said: “Colin has been open and honest with us as to his intentions for the future.

“He has an outstanding professional record of achievement in the medical field and the change to his lifestyle in no way diminishes his professional competence or his ability to fulfil his role as medical director.

“However, this issue may well raise further questions for patients. A dedicated helpline will be set up today on 01553 613463 and we will do our utmost to answer any questions from the public in a straightforward way.”

Mrs May has written to every member of staff at the hospital, informing them of the reasons behind Mr Bone's gender change.

“He has increasingly recognised over recent years that he has been trying to deny gender dysphoria,” she said.

“He has now reached a point in his life where he needs to accept his real identity.

“You can imagine that the coming months are both scary and exciting for Colin, representing a big step on an extraordinary journey of self-realisation.”

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