Two Cork sisters who were born brothers are due to appear on British television today to chart the journey that began in early childhood.
Chloe and Jamie O’Herlihy both liked playing with dolls as children and while Jamie also liked “playing soccer and climbing trees”, Chloe said she “didn’t really fit in with the other boys”.
Jamie came out as bisexual at age 14 “because I wasn’t sure about gender yet”, and subsequently as gay, she told RTÉ’s Ryan Tubridy in a radio interview yesterday.
However she missed the dressing-up part of her childhood, her mum’s high heels and dresses, because that was “a major playtime thing that we did” and so she “started back into it in drag form” at age 15 or 16 performing in different gay bars in Cork, which she said “reawakened my love of being utterly feminine and presenting as a woman”.
“It was amazing. I would wear make-up anyway and take care of myself presenting as male, but when you put on your long blonde wig and your make-up and you are wearing clothes that actually feel comfortable and fit your body and look nice — you look in the mirror and you think ‘God I am really confident right now and I really like the way I look’... it’s an amazing feeling and I didn’t want it to end.”
Jamie, 23, said she did experience bullying while growing up but dealt with it by standing up to the bullies. Chloe said she had a really close network of female friends and felt protected from the boys in her class.
Responding to questions as to why they had both decided to come out at the same time last November, by way of video on social media, the girls said they didn’t want to have to engage in explanations every time they walked down the street and they also wanted to raise awareness about being transgender. “It was intimidating at first and now I feel it’s liberating,” said Jamie.
Jamie is now in a relationship with Harry, who is also transgender and was assigned a female identity at birth, but is now almost finished his transition to male.
The two met at a training programme organised by Transgender Equality Network Ireland and Jamie said she ended up “falling head over heels in love”.
Both girls have been approached by heterosexual males in nightclubs and Chloe said she tells them she’s transgender.
“I think some guys seem to have a fantasy about us, but at the same time my life isn’t a fantasy. I’m living my life the way I am, I’m not somebody’s fantasy.”
Jamie said they are “openly transgender” and that it was”really very hard to date as transgender” because often male interest was a result of curiosity or confused males “using you as a stepping stone to figure out their sexuality”. Both girls are planning to undergo hormone replacement therapy at Loughlinstown Hospital in Dublin as part of the transitioning process.
“We’ve been so unhappy dragging around these bodies that we don’t believe are ours, so we’ll do anything to make sure we are comfortable in our own skin and have happy peaceful lives,” said Jamie.
The girls, from Cork City, are due to make an appearance today on ITV’s This Morning with Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.
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