32-year-old Jamie Pandit has lived as a woman since she was a teen but only her family and close friends know about her past.
When she met her boyfriend Phil Silva, she did not know how to tell him the truth until they started making love and saying ‘I love you’.
“I was living in anxiety every day for weeks, in case someone found out and told him my secret before I had,” Jamie said.
“Nobody can prepare you for that scary moment, because you don’t know how they’ll react – but when I finally told him, I was so glad that I did.”
Jamie was aged 14 when she realized she was a transgender.
“When I was 16, I would leave the house as a male, and change into women’s clothes in public toilets, then change back again before I went home so nobody I knew would see me and question it,” she recalled.
Jamie had a clean slate at 17 when she moved away from home and began living as a woman. She also started her hormone therapy that same year but she did not truly feel like a real woman until her transition surgery when she was 24.
It was in 2016 when she met restaurant-owner Phil from Portugal.
“Dating when you’re living in stealth is nerve-wracking, because it’s hard to know when to tell someone – and you don’t know how they’ll react,” Jamie said.
“Any time I found someone I liked, I’d have the moment of panic when I’d realise I’d need to reveal to them that I was transgender.
“I just had to keep telling myself there would be someone out there for me, although I didn’t believe it – until I met Phil.”
Their first date was such a success that “I remember getting back to my apartment and thinking about how I’d had such a good time. But I knew I’d eventually have to tell him I was different.”
They went on several more dates, became intimate, met each other’s finally, and said ‘I love yous,’ but Phil still did not know the truth.
When Phil invited her for a romantic weekend in New York, she decided to tell him everything before their trip.
“He had stayed over at mine one night, and I forced myself to be honest with him,” Jamie shared.
“I knew I had to, but I was so worried about how he’d react. I remember him saying, ‘I see you for who you are. You’re a woman and you’re beautiful’ and I just started sobbing.”
After dating for five months, they moved into a condo together and Phil popped the question.
“It was a beautiful moment, because I realised he was committed to being on this journey with me,” Jamie expressed.
“Being with a transgender person comes with a lot of challenges, but he was willing to accept those because he put our relationship first.”
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