Paris Lees

Paris Lees Knows...

Summer’s here.

I know because I keep seeing lads with their tops off walking around in shorts. You know the ones. They’re in the parks and on the buses, cans of Coke in hand, hot and sweaty. You can smell them.

I love summer. Who doesn’t? I used to fear warm weather though – a sinking feeling would creep in near the Winter solstice and, as the days became so much as a second shorter, I’d begin to worry. Dread. After all, if you hate your body, what do you do when it’s time to peel the layers off?

If you’re anything like me, you stay at home and become a recluse. I lived in Brighton before I moved to London and I spent 2 whole summers making excuses about why I couldn’t go to the beach. Forget “trapped in the wrong body”, I was trapped inside student accommodation. Dorset Gardens. I used to sunbathe on my bed, underneath the skylight. God knows what the seagulls thought.

Things changed when I began hormone therapy. Literally. Breasts bloomed and my skin glowed. People said how well I was looking. Imagine if you could take a tablet which made you look more and more attractive. You’d bite someone’s arm off for it, wouldn’t you? You could have one of mine. They’re softer and less veiny, these days. They grow finer hairs.

It’s possible to buy female hormones online (the easy option) but I went through the NHS pathway (the “proper” route) which involved visits to my GP, a local psychiatrist and, finally, a gender identity clinic. There are many hoops to jump through before they give you the magic beans.

The result? A wardrobe full of dresses. Before, when I dared venture out, I’d wear t-shirts and jackets. Now, if I feel like it, I show my cleavage. Not only is my body more feminine, I can wear more girly styles. And I perspire like a girl. I sit next to the boys on the bus and I smell them, yet I no longer smell of fear.

Freedom. It’s a heady scent.

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