Ria Cooper is the youngest person in the United Kingdom to have ever been prescribed female hormones. And now, she has the distinction of being the first trans person to have a sex change.
Ria was born a man, Brad, and she underwent a sex-swap when she was just 15 years old.
Now, she has the unique distinction of switching genders three times in her 23 years on this planet.
It was when she was only 15 when doctors controversially agreed with her that she was a girl trapped in a boy’s body and agreed to go through with the sex change.
At the time, she was given blockers to prevent her male body from going through puberty. She was then given female hormones to stop the growth of facial hair and to begin the formation of breasts.
But just under 3 years after her first gender reassignment surgery and after multiple battles with depression, drugs, violent relationships and prostitution she decided to get another sex change to go back to being Brad.
By then, Ria had tried to take her own life twice and she says that the hormones that were pumped into her were causing her to spiral into self-destruction.
In an interview, Ria said: ‘one reason I switched back to being male was that I was worried I’d never find love as Ria.’
She continued on by saying: ‘they’d fall in love with me, knowing my background – but as soon as their friends found out, I’d be dumped. I began to doubt I would ever feel happy again.’
Shortly before her 18th birthday, she decided to end her treatment and become Brad once again. She said: ‘I felt under so much pressure from society that six years later I caved in. I was torn. I knew exactly who I was, but I also wanted to conform and be ‘normal’’
But now more than five years later, Ria is more than sure that she wants to be a woman. ‘I’ve always known I was female – it was everyone else who was confused, not me. I was wearing makeup and heels at the age of 12, there was no question.’
Critics have voiced their opinion by saying that Ria has wasted taxpayer money by abandoning her transformation. Ria has vowed that she will pay for her own surgery this time around.
She has since paid five thousand pounds to get breasts and she is set to undergo a surgery next year for gender reassignment.
She hopes that switching back to being a female will help her find the romance that she so desires. ‘If I can find a man who accepts that and loves me for who I am, that’s perfect. If not, I’d still like to be a mum’
Other critics have used Ria as evidence that teenagers and children are too young to have gender reassignment surgery.
But Ria states that it wasn’t her who was confused, rather, it was the people around her. ‘My mum Elaine let me dress as a woman. But whenever a male relative came round I’d wipe off the makeup and get back into boys’ clothes – I knew they wouldn’t approve.’
To her detractors, Ria said: ‘I know some people would say it was all too much, too young. But you know your own mind. You know when you’re living life in the wrong body.’
Ria has since changed her passport to display her female identity and she has also gone through counseling and assessments at a gender identity clinic in London.
Ria says she used to struggle with the perception she had of herself versus the perception that society had of her. ‘Only now I realize that made me even more unhappy. Now I’m going to be me – and I hope I will finally be happy.’