A pair of childhood friends who played football together as boys are set to marry years as man and wife after reuniting when one of them underwent gender reassignment surgery.
Christopher Dodd, 24, and Fay Purdham, 27, are now a couple, with the latter transitioning to become a woman at the age of 23.
The pair, who now live in South Bank, Middlesbrough, grew up together as boys before losing touch as teenagers.
Soon after they parted ways Fay, who was born Kevin, started her transition to becoming a woman by taking hormones.
They reunited at a party years later and are now planning their dream wedding.
'When I saw Fay again, I was gob smacked by how beautiful she was and I fell for her immediately,' said Mr Dodd, who is studying chemistry at Middlesbrough University.
'It took me some time to get my head around the fact that she used to be my best friend Kevin but I have never looked at her in any other way other than the fact she is a gorgeous woman.'
The pair were inseparable as children and spent endless hours playing football. Christopher was my best friend in the world when I younger.
'We used to be together all the time from when I was about nine going on 10 – he was a close family friend – and we spent hours together playing 'boy' games when I was Kevin,' Miss Purdham said.
But even as a young boy she said she knew she was slightly different.
'I used to play with cars and guns and play sports like my friends, but I also loved playing with dolls.'
- When they kissed for the first time, Miss Purdham said it felt 'right'
Aged 12, she realised she was gay and came out to her family after spending years dressing up in her sister's clothes in wigs secretly.
From then the youngster became increasingly feminine, saving up her pocket money to buy women's clothes and experimenting with make-up.
Aged 16 she began taking hormones to begin her physical transformation, by which point Christopher had already moved away with his family.
'I had gradually stopped playing with Christopher and he had moved away anyway,' added Miss Purdham.
'It was sad and I missed him but I didn’t think him, being a boy, would understand what was going on.
'When I started to transition from about the age of 16, I lost touch with him and didn’t see him again for several years.'
In fact the couple did not meet again until Mr Dodd's 21st birthday when Miss Purdham, who is unemployed, turned up with her sister.
'As soon as he saw me, he came over to me,' she recalled.
'He had heard through family that I’d had surgery to become a woman but the last time he’d seen me I was Kevin.
'His first words were: "God you look different" and we both burst out laughing.
'Now he had really grown into a handsome young man and I was very attracted to him right from the start – plus I had that feeling that he was also liking me too.
“We sat talking for ages about the old days and then suddenly, he kissed me - and it felt like the right thing to do.'
They began dating, with Mr Dodd eager to understand more about his new girlfriend's transformation.
'He was curious about it all of course and a little afraid, I think. It was all new to him and the fact that I had been a boy and we had been so close at one time was a little difficult to get his head around.
'But he never ever treats me little anything less than the woman I am and he’s very respectful of me.'
They are now engaged and are planning a family, with Miss Purdham having frozen her sperm before undergoing gender reassignment surgery.
'We are so excited for our future. I still can’t believe that all this is happening – and that Christopher has fallen in love with me given our backgrounds.
'I feel very lucky that fate crossed our paths again. He’s definitely the man of my dreams – and I know I’m his girl.'
source: mail online