About Katie Neeves
This is an interview I did for ITV News.
I was assigned male at birth, based purely on my sex characteristics (as is still the established practice) and I was given the name of Martin. However, from my earliest memories at the age of around 3 or 4, my head and my heart were telling me something different to the label I had been given, as I felt the need to crossdress and this continued throughout my life. It always felt so right wearing girl’s and women’s clothes. I felt right. But then I would feel guilty about it as I knew it was socially unacceptable and afterwards, I would be consumed by feelings of guilt, disgust and self-loathing. It was a vicious cycle. I only accepted myself as a crossdresser in my mid-twenties and as soon as I accepted it, the problem disappeared. I was happy as a man who needed to crossdress for many years. I realised I had a condition called gender dysphoria which is a feeling of great unease about your head and your heart telling you are the opposite gender to the sex you were assigned at birth, however my gender dysphoria was satisfied by regular crossdressing.
I trained as a press photographer and worked on newspapers in Kent before moving to the Midlands to become a senior staff photographer with the Coventry Evening Telegraph. I left after 5 years to set up my freelance photography and video business in 1996 called Martin Neeves Photography & Film. My photos were regularly published in national magazines and newspapers and I photographed many notable events such as the 1990 Poll Tax riots in Trafalgar Square, Princess Diana’s funeral and the Yugoslav civil war. I was even twice commissioned to photograph the Queen inside Buckingham Palace. I had built up an enviable reputation for myself. I had lots of outside interests too as I played the guitar and banjo in several bands, I had a private pilot’s licence with a part-ownership of an open-cockpit aerobatic bi-plane and I also enjoyed salsa dancing.
However, in October 2017 (at the age of 48), my gender dysphoria increased dramatically. So much so, that I didn’t know what gender I was at all. I was so desperate that I even Googled “What gender is Martin Neeves?” even though I knew that the answer could only come from me. This led to a voyage of discovery (using three different approaches) and to finally admitting to myself in January 2018 that I am a transgender woman with a need to change my body. Once I had discovered my true gender identity, the urge to live my truth was overwhelmingly strong, so I just had to follow my heart. With waiting times of up to 4 (or even 5) years for a first appointment at some NHS gender clinics, I felt I couldn’t wait that long, so I opted to be treated privately. I was officially diagnosed with gender dysphoria in March 2018 and I started on Hormone Replacement Therapy the following month. I changed my name to Katie by deed poll in July 2018 and I started living full-time as female in September 2018.
So far, so good. However, I had a dilemma as my business was named after her old (male) name. I could have changed it to Katie Neeves Photography & fIlm but I felt that would be like starting from scratch and Martin Neeves Photography & Film had been an established brand for 22 years, so I decided to keep the name of my business the same. However, in order to do that, I would have to come out very openly and honestly as being transgender. It was a huge risk, but I felt it was the only way.
I decided to make a coming-out video which I put on all her social media in April 2018 and sent to all my clients. Here’s the video:
I am a woman on a mission! But not just any woman and not just any mission…
Being an openly transgender woman and a trans ambassador, I am on a mission to not only show that it’s OK to be trans, but it’s actually cool to be trans too!
Through my media appearances, public speaking engagements, blog, vlog, social media, trans awareness training courses and via support groups, my aim is to reach out to trans people who may be struggling with their gender identity, to reassure them and to lead by example. I want to help educate the general public too. The more people who are educated about trans issues, the greater the acceptance and the easier it will be for trans people to live their lives in peace. Most bigotry and prejudice comes from ignorance and fear of the unknown. Education can and does save lives.
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I needn’t have been worried about how people would react to my coming-out video as I was inundated with hundreds of messages of support. From being something I was dreading, it was actually one of the most uplifting experiences of my life. I continued to transition very publicly by regularly posting update VLOGs and written pieces on my blog as well as doing many media interviews and articles in magazines and newspapers. After each interview, I was always contacted by trans people who may have been struggling with it. They told me that what I said had helped them. I had become a trans ambassador!
My aim is to reach out to other trans people to let them know that it’s OK to be trans. Well, not just OK, it’s cool to be trans too! I also want to help educate the general public on trans issues. If I can stop just one person from self-harming or attempting suicide, it will all have been worth it. I then decided to take this a step further by creating a new venture, Cool2BTrans which provides trans awareness training to companies, media appearances and public speaking about trans issues as well as mentoring and support of trans people and their loved ones. I am passionate about this important work so I will continue with my media appearances to both reach out and to educate.