Two Irish sisters who grew up as brothers say they hope their decision to go public on being transgender will help normalise it and help others.
Jamie O’Herlihy, aged 23, from Cork said she and her sister, Chloe, aged 20, who was born Daniel, have been overwhelmed by the hugely positive reaction after the pair spoke out yesterday.
“It’s all about awareness — just people knowing that being transgender is normal, that there’s nothing weird about it. I’m just like every other girl, just a normal girl,” she said.
“We just want to give a good name to trans people and be a voice for trans people across Ireland and the UK because there’s not a lot of trans role models out there than people can relate to.
“We want to be that for people, to help people who feel alone — because there is support out there. Just know that.”
They said they have been inundated with requests for print, radio, and television interviews and hope that by telling their story, they will show other trans people that they too can live happy lives.
Jamie and Daniel grew up together in Cork City’s western suburbs struggling with their gender.
They felt they could not talk about it and each struggled alone.
Chloe said they spent their childhoods dressing up and playing with dolls but hid their feelings when they were in school.
“We did a good job of hiding it. It’s sad because we were so happy at home and always so upset that we had to hide that part of ourselves with our friends,” she said.
Jamie came out as gay aged 14, and started doing a drag act two years later, just as Chloe, 13, came out as gay too.
But Jamie said she realised there was something deeper going on when she realised she did not want to take off the female clothing after her drag performances.
“It’s a cliché to say ‘I always knew’ but I did and I just kept pushing it to the back of my mind,” she said.
She said it was a “huge relief” when they both came out to each other last summer as being transgender and accepted that they were each born in the “wrong bodies” and were in this together.
Chloe said: “I always wore makeup and had longer hair. I’ve never really been considered one of the lads, I was always one of the girls.
“It’s weird that we were both going through exactly the same thing and having the same thoughts about being trans but just not talking to each other. Then when Jamie came out and told us, I was like ‘right, this is something you are going to have to face too’.”
They are now both happily living as women — Jamie is a bartender in Dublin and Chloe is studying hairdressing.
Jamie said they have both struggled with anxiety and panic attacks but they have supported each other on their journey.
And both have confirmed that they plan to undergo gender reassignment surgery at the same time.
They are taking oestrogen at the moment and are preparing for surgery, which they hope will take place later this year.
Jamie got hair extensions in a hair salon in Dublin yesterday ahead of their appearance on ITV’s This Morning programme in Britain tomorrow.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved