A delivery driver who kept her “incredible desire to be female” secret for more than 60 years, thought marriage would “cure” her, and attempted to take her own life twice, has transitioned at the age of 61 and now feels like she has been “reborn” after spending 120,000 Australian dollars (£68,000) on surgeries and treatments.
Melanie Taylor, now 65, who lives in Penrith, Australia, said she knew she was “different to other boys” at the age of five or six, as she wished she could wear “frilly dresses” and have her “hair long and in ponytails”.
Melanie, who was formerly known as Mark, explained that when she saw photos of herself as a toddler, “all (she) saw was a girl” – and this led to her feeling “confused” and believing that “something was wrong with (her)”.
She said she felt like “a deviant or some strange, sick individual”, but she made the difficult decision to “take (her) secret to the grave rather than become an outcast”, and she later got married and had three children.
However, one day, out of nowhere, Melanie’s wife asked “Do you want to be a woman?” and after answering “yes” Melanie said she freed herself from the “living hell” she was in and was able to pursue her dreams of becoming female.
“I thought about what it would be like to transition to a woman for many years, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think it would be possible until my wife popped that fateful question,” Melanie said.
“(It was) a point in my life that freed me to follow my dream.”
Melanie, who works as a professional delivery driver in the automotive parts industry – which she described as a “very male-dominated industry” – grew up in Parramatta, and lived there until her early 20s.
In her childhood, she said she wished she was like other girls; she “hated being dirty” and was not a “rough and tumble boy”.
She explained that she was brought up in an era where “not much was known about transgender people” and, given there was no internet and a lack of information at the time, Melanie did not understand why she wanted to be female.
These feelings of confusion continued into her teenage years, and even into her 60s, but after meeting the woman who she later married, Melanie thought “this relationship would cure (her) desires to be a female”.
“In my teens when I was still very confused as to why I was in a male body and my brain was telling me the opposite, a girl I had known for many years became my girlfriend and, at the age of 20, we were married,” Melanie said.
“I thought that this relationship would cure my desires to be a female.
“For a few years it did to a point, but the desires and feelings came back stronger than ever.”
Melanie explained that she and her wife, Susan, were “very close” and she “just couldn’t bear the thought of hurting her”, so she decided to conceal her desire to be female – a secret that she ended up keeping for more than 60 years.
“I did keep my feelings and thoughts very private through fear of alienating and ostracising myself from all my family, friends and work colleagues,” she said.
“This had a huge affect on my mental health, as the thought of letting anyone know I wanted to be female became harder and harder… (and so) I came to a decision I would take my secret to the grave rather than become an outcast.”
While Melanie did her utmost to suppress her urges and desires, it “all became too much” during her 40s and 50s.
She said she became “very anxious” and was diagnosed with chronic depression, which led to her attempting to take her own life twice as she “couldn’t see any way out”, and she was later taken to a mental health facility.
“I was struggling terribly dealing with this secret, the incredible desire to be female,” she said.
“I contemplated taking my life rather than suffering the humiliation of coming out and becoming an outcast.
“The following few years I attempted suicide twice, but fortunately, both these attempts failed.”
After being released from the mental health facility, Melanie said “it all came to a head one day”.
She and Susan, who have now been married for 45 years, were discussing what led to the suicide attempts – and it was during this conversation that Melanie’s life “changed forever” and the secret she had been harbouring for decades was “released”.
“My wife and I were having an intense discussion about what has brought this on; she was struggling to understand what was wrong with me,” Melanie explained.
“In this discussion she asked me a question which was to change my life forever. She said: ‘Do you want to be a woman?’
“At that very point, I thought, what do I do? (Do I) continue to keep my secret, or finally be released from the living hell I have been in for 60 years.
“I took a risk and I answered, ‘yes’.”
To this day, the couple do not know “where this question came from” – but at the age of 61, and with her wife’s “total support”, Melanie began her transition.
She initially started with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and was prescribed oestrogen patches along with a testosterone blocker.
After 12 months of HRT, Melanie then travelled to Melbourne and had a consultation with a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, before undergoing gender reassignment surgery in February 2021.
In July of that year, she had breast augmentation surgery, and in February 2022, she underwent facial feminisation surgery in Marbella, Spain, which she said was “life-changing”. She has also had electrolysis to remove facial hair.
Melanie said she feels “wonderful after transitioning”, but she explained that she could never have afforded all the surgeries and treatments without her “beautiful wife”, as the total costs have amounted to approximately 120,000 Australian dollars.
She said she “will forever be in her debt”.
“Back at the start my wife was made redundant from her job and received a large payout,” Melanie said.
“She had no hesitation in deciding to pay for everything involved with my transition – a very kind decision that I could never repay.
“I will forever be in her debt and will never forget.”
Melanie explained that the changes in her body have been “slow but noticeable”.
She said her skin is “much softer” and some fat has been redistributed around her hips, thighs, stomach and face, giving her the “body (she has) long dreamed of”.
Melanie said she loves “everything about being a woman”, including wearing make-up, high heels, jewellery, lingerie, women’s clothing, and having a cleavage.
Apart from “the expected giggles and staring in the beginning”, Melanie said most people have been very respectful of her transition, and the response from her family, friends, and colleagues, for the most part, has been “very positive”.
She said she is no longer “living in the darkness” and feels like she has been “reborn”.
She just wishes her parents, who died before she transitioned, could have met “the other daughter they never knew they had”.
She said: “I desperately wanted their approval, support and love for the person I really was.”
Melanie said she is now “the gender and in the body (she) should have been from birth”, and she would encourage others who feel they are too old to transition, or who may be hesitant, to prioritise their own happiness and speak to people and medical professionals they trust.
“Don’t waste your life or deny yourself happiness,” she said.
“I don’t know how many years I have left, but I didn’t want the rest of my life to be as unhappy as the past.
“Take a leap of faith, you deserve to be happy.”