Like many young women, Ria Cooper dreams of one day getting married and having children. But the 23-year-old knows the odds are stacked against her.
Not only because she was born a boy, but because she has now switched gender an astonishing three times in her short life.
Ria – who was born Brad – became ¬Britain’s youngest sex-swap patient at 15. Doctors controversially backed her belief she was a girl in a boy’s body.
She was given blockers to stop her going through puberty, followed by injections of female hormones to impede face and chest hair and trigger the formation of breasts.
But with her life spiralling out of control as she struggled with her new identity – and the fears of never being accepted as a woman – Ria decided to transition back and live her life instead as a gay man.
Before having crucial surgery, she ended her treatment and became Brad again soon after her 18th birthday.
It turned her into the unwitting poster boy for those who claimed teenagers were too young to be given gender reassignment.
But five years on Ria is more certain than ever that is not the real her – and is making her second attempt at becoming a woman to have the future she always dreamed of.
She said: “I’ve always known I was female – it was everyone else who was confused, not me. I was wearing make-up and heels at the age of 12, there was no question.
Stung by critics who accused her of “wasting” thousands of pounds of NHS cash on her abandoned transformation, Ria has vowed she will fund her own surgery.
She has paid £5,000 to get her dream 34EE breasts, and will have an op next year for her genital transformation.
But as well as finally finding peace, she hopes it will allow her to find the romance and the family she longs for.
Ria said: “One reason I switched back to being male was because I was worried I’d never find love as Ria.
“My past was always just too much for men to take on board when I ¬transitioned the first time.
“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.
“But I’m older and wiser now and know exactly who I am. I’m Ria and I’m a woman. There’s no turning back.
“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.”