"I wanted to share my transitional journey, to help break down the stigmas around transgender people"

Marteene wants to share her story to challenge the stigma people have on transgender people
Marteene wants to share her story to challenge the stigma people have on transgender people

Marteene Pringle who transitioned to a female in 2013, wants to share her journey to inspire others to be proud of who they are, and to know that support is out there.

Marteene now works as a patron of Sparkle Charity, which supports Trans rights and the positive representation of Trans people in the UK and worldwide.

She said: "When I was 7 I knew I was in the wrong body. I gravitated towards female things, and used to play with my sisters toys. I didn't understand what was happening to me."

Marteene didn't have the support of her parents. They used to beat her, and repeatedly told her to man up.

It was a difficult existence, and Marteene was deeply depressed and tried to commit suicide.

To try and encourage her to be more 'manly', she was forced to join the army, like her father did.

The squadron she was in was initially based in Bath, but they moved up to Hull, which left her isolated and feeling alone. This started another spiral of depression and led to two more suicide attempts.

Marteene served in the army for twelve years and even did a tour of the Falklands.

Marteene felt pressured into getting married at just 18 years old, as "It was just what men do".

Her first marriage lasted for seven years.

She remarried afterwards and had one child with her partner, who already had two children.

"I really loved my second partner, and was very close to her children and of course our own, Ciara."

Devastatingly, one of her step children committed suicide - a daughter who Marteene was particularly close to, one of the only people who Marteene would have revealed her true self to.

Four years after the death of her step daughter, she broke up with her then wife.

It was at this point Marteene decided to come out to the world. She was 51-years-old, and could no longer hide who she truly was.

Marteene said: "It got to a point where I couldn't hide things any longer. I had a conversation with a trans female and I told her what was going on in my head, and she suggested I might be transgender and should have a look into other people's experiences.

"I started to dress as a female, and took hormones that I ordered from Thailand because a the time things weren't available in the UK. My body started to change and I felt like I was becoming who I was meant to be.

Marteene booked an appointment with her GP - who referred her to a gender identity clinic -which currently has a 30 month waiting list for an appointment for those who are looking for gender reassignment help.

The gender reassignment clinic requests that those looking to transition live as a woman for two years before they can progress with surgery.

"It was daunting, but I realised that I would have to tell my daughter, Ciara.

"I needn't have been worried though, because she was amazingly supportive. She was very loving and understanding, and most of all supportive of who I wanted to be."

Despite a rocky journey, Marteene wants people to know that there is support out there for people who are looking to transition.

"I think the main problem is people misunderstanding what it means to be transgender. People mix up transgender with transvestites and cross dressers.

"The difference is transvestites and cross dressers do it because they enjoy it, for transgender people it's who they are, it's their lives.

Marteene also went on to express the importance of education about the transgender spectrum.

"I understand some communities don't agree with the lifestyle, and that's fine. But people must understand that openly abusing people for being transgender is a hate crime.

"I've been on the receiving end of it myself, where a group of four teenagers were abusing me, the group grew to 16 hurling abuse at me - it was awful.

"Once I explained to them the differences between transgender and transvestite, eight of them came back straight away to apologise. It's just a matter of educating people what we are all about and our stories."

Currently, 45% of young trans people have thought about or attempted suicide in their lives.

This is something Marteene is also working with, a charity called Mermaids - which provides advice for parents and children who have questions about transgender people.

Mermaids is passionate about supporting children, young people, and their families to achieve a happier life in the face of great adversity.

They work to raise awareness about gender nonconformity in children and young people among professionals and the general public.

"I want young trans people to know that there is no need to be afraid. It's not something they should be scared of anymore. People are out there, like Mermaids and Sparkle charities that can help you, whatever you're going through.

Marteene said she want to expend her thanks to her employers, TK Maxx who made coming out to her colleagues very easy.

"The support they gave me was amazing. I am really thankful to my work colleagues. Without them it's possible I might not even have come out at all."

"I hope by sharing my story people can come out, and be happy in their own skin. That's the most important thing in life.

"I don't care what other people think because I'm very strong minded. But not everyone is.

"As long as people who are transitioning know that there are people out there to talk too, then we can help reduce the number of hate incidents, and cases of suicide for young trans people everywhere."

For more information on Sparkle and Mermaids charitable work, please visit: https://mermaidsuk.org.uk/ and https://www.sparkle.org.uk/