Is She or Isn't He? (2010) - full transcript

The intimate story of a self-proclaimed 'fat hairy woman with a penis' and her 5-year search to find love and acceptance. Growing up as a small town boy who seems more like a girl, Graham ...

- So I've been online and I've met a man

and we're taking our
relationship to the next level

and we're admitting we're
boyfriend girlfriend.

So I never thought
there'd be guys out there

who are straight, they like girls,

but they just want a chick with a dick,

isn't that the weirdest?

- [Justin] Yes, does it worry you

'cause you're thinking
of getting rid of your...

- Oh no he doesn't mind that.

- [Justin] Are you
worried he might be gay?

- I thought that, but he's not, so yeah.

I'm not trying to look like a woman,

I think I am a woman,

an unfortunate one to have
a penis, hairy, and fat.

I've learned through the internet

there are guys out there who love me

that I have a penis.

But I want to be a woman with a vagina.

I want to be a heterosexual woman

being loved by a heterosexual male.

(jazzy organ music)

- [Justin] I met Graham in
Whangarei a few years earlier

through a friend of a friend.

- Oh, pretty.

- [Justin] He told me that he was planning

on becoming a woman

and invited me to document his journey.

At the time,

I didn't realize I was committing
to five years of filming.

On the day we start,

Graham is living in a sleepout

at the back of his parents' house,

but has not yet told his
family about his plans.

In fact, he's not even
chosen a female name.

- Elizabeth Taylor, doing a
little bit of light research.

Cindy Crawford, Basic Face.

- [Justin] What for, research for...

- Just on fabulousness.

I don't know, women in the 50's

were far more gorgeous and glamorous

than what they are nowadays, really.

I mean look at it, she's gorgeous.

- [Justin] Is that what
you'd like to look like?

- Oh God no, I could never look that good.

- [Justin] But what if you
could look like anything,

who would it be?

What would it be?

- The one, the only, the Audrey.

She's just the best.

As you can see, we look nothing alike.

- [Justin] So you haven't decided

when you're gonna tell...

- Maybe Christmas.

- [Justin] Christmas day?

- Oh God no.

Mind you, they'll say, well
at least you got us a present.

- [Justin] So you do fear it,

it is a scary thing?

- Oh, beyond petrified, it really is.

- [Justin] Whangarei is New
Zealand's most northern city,

but with a population
of only 50,000 people,

it's possibly not the easiest place

to be non-conforming.

There are no gay bars here,

and at 25 years old,

Graham says that he's never even met

another transgendered person.

- I act all self-assured

and absolutely out there

and I am, but at the same time,

I'm scared about what
people might think or say

now that I'm making such a
larger, more obvious statement

what I'm trying to do.

I've chosen the name Ashleigh,

and I've tried to tell people,

try calling me Ashleigh,

try calling me she,

'cause I thought at first,
oh no just call me Graham,

call me he, but if I think about it

if I really want to start
doing what I wanna be

I have to start living
like a woman as a woman.

I told my mum, and I cried,

and I don't know why, but you do,

and I said I wanna become a woman.

And she goes oh, then we had a hug.

Which is odd 'cause we're
not a hugging family, anyway.

She told dad for me

and I haven't spoken
to him since about it,

we haven't even bridged it.

I mean I'm wearing makeup and stuff.

- I had a suspicion for a long time

that he was a bit
different from other boys.

But my wife, she was a bit tearful

for a couple of days afterwards.

But it didn't affect me like that,

I just sort of take it in me stride.

- [Justin] Why was your wife tearful?

- [Shirley] She'd brought
him up as a son, I suppose.

- At work, they still call me Graham.

They just can't seem to
understand the difference

between a gay person and a transgender.

- [Justin] Do you explain that to them?

- You try and like you say,

just think of me as a chick,

like with a deformity,

or not, well literally a deformity,

'cause I'm not a man wanting a man,

I'm a woman wanting a man.

And they go oh yeah, I get it now.

I just think they have these
lapses of forgetfulness.

I think once I start getting things done,

I'm gonna notice the change

and wanna make more changes, you know?

It's just that I'm, I
still don't like dresses

'cause they don't suit me.

I don't like singlet tops

'cause I'm too fat as it is.

Just like a fat woman would.

I prefer pants any day

I want to be considered really attractive.

I wanna become a model,

I thought being a model would be fun.

I want to have beautiful big breasts

that a guy would love.

I want to be a heterosexual woman

being loved by a heterosexual male.

Not even have any doubts in him,

like oh that's an odd-looking woman.

My fear is I won't be passable.

I don't want to look like a man,

'cause I've seen some,

and there are just some
men that wanna be women

but they just don't look like women

and my fear is I won't look like a female.

- What's your plans in the long term?

- [Ashleigh] I wanna be a woman.

- In terms of having surgery?

- [Ashleigh] Yeah everything.

- You might well find
if we increase the dose

the maximum sort of dose

is the both estrogen and spironolactone,

that you will get less hair growth,

more breast development.

You might psychologically feel better,

and you'll get a reduction
in penile size as well,

because you're trying
to almost put someone

into a eunuch state.

- Estrogen, female.

And TA, that is the
testosterone suppressant.

So this stops the little guys downstairs

and this is to make me get pretty.

- [Justin] How do you know

that you will be happy with your body

if you had breasts and a vagina?

- It's just the fact
that I'll be acknowledged

as a woman, which is what I wanna be,

and to be a woman, these
things are important.

I don't like being a man.

But as I said, I've never
been terribly masculine.

- [Justin] You think
it might've stopped you

from being able to to be comfortable

getting into a relationship with somebody?

- Definitely because
the relationship I want

is a heterosexual relationship

where I love a man

who loves me back as a woman.

- [Justin] And you'll be in a relationship

with a straight man, not a gay man?

- No not at all, 'cause I'm not gay.

I know I'm a straight woman

but for me it isn't a sexuality issue,

it's a body issue.

I always knew as a child growing up.

I used to play in my
mum's clothes in secret,

wear the shoes.

And when I was even younger

mum used to say...

- But transgender's
different from transvestite

and guys that like to dress up as girls.

- [Ashleigh] Yeah.

- I have to say when I first met you,

I immediately jumped to a conclusion

that you were someone who was confused,

and that's what I thought.

- Really?

- Yeah, it was yeah.

- Confused?

- Yeah, someone who's just
a bit mixed up about it

and that you would
eventually really regret

the whole thing.

And that was before I knew you, though,

and that was just a
total knee-jerk reaction.

- [Justin] When you met Graham,

did you think that he was
just an effeminate gay man?

- No, I don't know what I thought.

I didn't think he was gay.

He, oh you made me say he.

I didn't think...

- [Justin] But we're talking about Graham.

- At that stage, yeah, no,

I didn't think he was gay,

and I wasn't sure what
I thought at that point.

I guess sometime in the last year,

she's totally female to me now, totally.

- [Justin] In reality,

before she can be totally female,

Ashleigh has a long
list of physical changes

that she wants to undertake,

including major laser hair removal,

breast implants,

and genital reconstruction.

- [Doctor] You can tolerate that?

- [Ashleigh] I can.

- [Doctor] You sure?

- [Ashleigh] Mm hmm.

- 'Cause if you don't
complain I just keep going.

- That's fine.

- Bearable?

- Yeah, I'll make it bearable.

- [Doctor] We are done.

- Move it fucker.

- [Justin] So how long's this drive

from home to get the electrolysis?

What's the round trip take?

- Probably four hours.

But in this car, six.

- [Justin] The 15 minute laser treatment

costs Ashleigh $200.

And she's been told that she'll need

at least ten treatments

on any part of her body

where there is unwanted hair.

It's becoming clear

that she'll never realize her dream

of transforming into a woman

without a large sum of cash.

And on her wages as a barista,

Ashleigh fears she'll never get there.

- I'm actually literally
freezing my ass off right now.

- [Justin] So you usually
wear a body suit, do you?

- Or a bra, depending on the jean.

These are kind of like a snug fit.

- [Justin] You have to tuck
yourself in down below, do you?

Between your legs?

- Yeah, well no not really,

it just squishes it up.

- [Justin] Is there an art to that?

- No I don't tuck or anything,

'cause I'm all flabby,

I can sort of,

and my penis is shrinking

so it's kind of like you just stick it on.

- [Justin] Really,

is that what happens with hormones?

- Yeah yeah yeah.

- [Justin] To finance her transformation,

Ashleigh needs to raise

around $30,000.

However, one of her brothers is looking

to start a business,

and offers Ashleigh the opportunity

to open her own cafe.

She's hoping that this might be a way

to raise the money.

- It's a complete dump.

- [Justin] What's the arrangement?

- We're partners in it.

He brings in all the money

and I bring in the four years experience

in running a popular cafe

here in Whangarei.

It's like, 'cause people are saying

how are you gonna raise the money?

And we'd joke, I'd have
to work the streets

to raise the money

but in reality, it's almost the only way

a lot of people can probably do it

and it's really sad.

- [Justin] Ashleigh decides
to name the business Narnia,

after the fictional world

featured in the fantasy books by CS Lewis.

- But this will be the entranceway.

You'll walk in here,

and then around this doorway

we're gonna have a big wardrobe,

'cause you know, Chronicles of Narnia,

you walk through the wardrobe,

and as you walk through,

they'll have a fur coat on either side

as in the storybook,

and then you walk in through here

and you're in the land of Narnia.

And we're gonna have themes to Peter Pan,

Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter

and just adolescent storybooks.

And this is the main dining area.

Someone suggested,

oh we could do like a
painted yellow brick road

up to the counter and things like that.

I'm gonna have a big clock in here

but it's gonna be a big pocket watch,

and I'm gonna drop like
some big chandeliers

I want more to over the top ones

but over here on this side

I'm just gonna have hundreds
and hundreds of fairy lights

just dripping all across the ceiling.

That is my cafe, it's gonna be cool.

- [Justin] Do you think you get to live

in a bit of a fantasy world, being...

- Yeah I suppose,

I've never thought of it like that,

I suppose so.

- [Justin] Ashleigh is the youngest

in a family of 13 children.

As a boy growing up she says

that people often mistook her for a girl,

so she maintains that it's
no surprise to her family

that she's chosen to
transform into a woman.

Even though they never discuss it.

- [Justin] Did you all just think

that she was gay,

when she was growing up?

- No I don't think we ever saw her as gay,

no just feminine.

- Oh that's gold, that is gold.

- [Justin] Is there anyone in the family

who is having a problem

with Ashleigh being transgendered?

- If I was brutally honest,

I suppose to a degree, we're
all having a problem with it.

I mean, literally brother
Graham, physically,

so there's probably little
snippets in everybody

that are sort of thinking

that's my brother, how
can it be happening?

- Breasts.

- [Justin] Do you know what
kind of breasts you want?

- I have no idea, big ones.

- [Justin] Really?

- Well I like all of them.

- Hey Marilyn, I was wondering

if I could speak to someone
about breast surgery.

Enlarge them.

Alright, and what else did I need to know?

I'm pre-op transgender,

that won't make any difference
into like the tissue

around my breasts and
everything that, yeah?

Oh okay cool, and have
they been quite happy?

That's awesome, thank you so much

for all your help.

Great, bye bye.

Not a problem, they've done
some transgenders before,

but it's between $8500 and $10,000.

The price depends on
when you get down there,

I don't know why.

What's that, 100 dollars a week?

Oh my God, that's 10
weeks just for a thousand.

- [Justin] That's only 5,200 in a year.

- Yeah I know, I have to go faster.

Oh that's right, 'cause Lindsay said

he was willing to help out,

the business, that's the
purpose of owning a business,

to help out with these
sorts of things as well.

It's all still very scary,

I'm actually really really petrified.

- [Justin] Well what
are you worried about?

- I don't know how much food to make

or how little or too much, you know?

- [Justin] By opening day,

the cafe isn't looking
like Ashleigh had dreamed.

- Oh wow this is cool.

- Oh thank you,

it's still sort of work in progress,

first day.

Good morning, Cafe Narnia,

how can I help you?

- [Justin] But the reality

of the first day's takings is encouraging.

- Was it a good opening?

- Hell yes,

I thought we'd just be doing nothing.

They're getting there.

But not quickly enough.

It's always the way,

never quickly enough.

- [Justin] So tell me,
when you look at yourself

in the mirror,

do you see a woman

or do you see a transgender person?

- I think I look good,

so I see a chick.

I just see a hairy, big-looking chick,

who looks like a rugby
player, but that's fine.

- She doesn't like to be introduced

as a transgender

because it's a little bit in your face,

it brings a teach into it,

and she doesn't like
having a teaching brought

to being transgender.

And it took me a little
while to understand that

because at first I was like, but you are,

so obviously not male,
but really not female

at that point either

and so there needed to be
some kind of introduction

for people to know,

we have to say he or she in front of her,

you know what I mean?

- [Justin] How would you respond

if somebody hits on you?

- If guys are attracted to me,

usually it's sleazy,

like it just comes across as
a big gross, I don't know.

Not that all guys are like that.

'Cause my fear is

some guys might have a
fetish for transgender,

and therefore they just assume

they're like every other one

that's out clubbing and drugging

and life is turning into a spiral mess,

and I don't know easy prey or something,

just for a sexual thing

more than anything else

and yeah that kind of grosses me out.

But I've had one night stands and stuff.

- [Justin] Did you enjoy the sex?

- Well I only get blow jobs.

I didn't want to, I don't
like anal sex, so yeah.

- [Justin] So you didn't get any pleasure?

- Oh yeah I did, it was still fun,

they're still doing something sexual,

it was great fun, I love it,

I'm really good at it too.

But yeah so um, I don't know,

it was fun 'cause it was doing something

as a female, you know?

When you're sucking off a guy's dick,

or to me, that means
you're a female, you know.

- When Fiona Clark embarked

upon this particular project in the 1970's

it was a hugely controversial exhibition

about transsexuals and transvestites

and people who are differently gendered

from that we considered in
our conventional society

at the time to be normal.

And so the only other way
of dealing with those people

is to marginalize them.

Many of the transgender people
you see in these photographs

are dead now, dead way before their time,

their lives thrown away unnecessarily

because of an uncaring society, frankly.

- [Justin] The Go Girl exhibition

is intended to be a celebration
of transgendered women,

but for Ashleigh, the
exhibition heightens her belief

that she's different
from other transgenders.

- Those tragic transgenders,

they make transgender a hard thing,

I think they make it an issue.

Their family hate them,

or no one loves me, I've
gotta work the streets,

they think it is so much

that it is such a hardship

that they are completely isolated,

no one can understand them,

but then they're creating
that bigger deal,

and it's not the big issue that it can be.

- [Justin] Despite her negative view

of the transgender community,

Ashleigh maintains that
she wants to undergo

full gender reassignment surgery.

Even though she's had little contact

with anyone who's been
through the procedure.

I suggest to Ashleigh that she calls

the transgender support group in Auckland

to investigate attending

one of their monthly meetings.

- This is Ashleigh Tadman in Whangarei,

how are you?

When's the next meeting?

This Tuesday coming?

Oh cool, is there any
chance I can meet you

before I actually go to a meeting?

Like just for a coffee or something,

it's just that some of
the people I've met,

they're quite down on themselves

and their families don't
like them they say,

and all that sort of thing

and that's not my case at all, so.

I won't say I like normality

but before I go meeting lots of people

I'd probably like to meet
one just to get an idea,

I'm sorry is that cool?

Then you name a place

and I'll just meet you there for a coffee.

Okay that's cool, whereabouts do you live?


Oh superrific, okay then if things come up

I'll ring and cancel
or change or whatever,

so that'll be cool.

See you later, bye bye.

Freak of nature.

I'm not about to go their house,

what if it's icky and gross and unclean?

I think, when I think if this was me,

I think I'd want to meet
people who'd done it.

Ashleigh seems to be
actively not seeking out

anybody else that's been there.

- Could be, she's always said to me

that she's always thought
of herself as female

and so she didn't feel that she was,

if you like transgender or ever a male,

do you know what I mean?

She just had the wrong body parts.

She's always been a female, yeah.

- [Justin] Around town,
Ashleigh has started

to become known as a local personality.

She gets asked to host
an amateur comedy night

and jumps at the opportunity.

- I figured it was a
way of saving 15 bucks.

- [Justin] How you doing, good?

- Yeah, I'm petrified.

It's like Granny Central.

- [Justin] How do you think the grannies

will respond to you being transgender?

- [Ashleigh] I'm sure
they won't even notice.

- [Justin] You're not gonna
mention it in any of your...

- Oh wait there's my phone.

No, God no.

See I don't think of myself of transgender

to make a point of it.

I mean Georgina Beyer has

and look what's happened to her,

she's just known as that transgender MP,

So if I go out there and start

rattling on or making transgender comments

or anything, then that's sort of

setting me up that that's what I am,

I don't want to be stigmatized like that.

To even make it an issue

makes it an issue, does that make sense?

'Cause I feel like anti-gay parades,

because it's like, you gotta get over it,

I don't see heterosexual parades.

It just seems like

if you're gonna create exclusion

then you will be excluded.

- [Justin] I think there's nothing wrong

with recognizing people's differences

and celebrating them.

- Oh yeah absolutely,

that I can agree with.

But a parade about I'm a gay person,

that just kind of seems stupid.

- [Justin] Well it's showing pride,

isn't it, that's the point?

- I suppose, but it's over.

Surely it's, okay we know
gay people are out there,

can we move on?

- [Justin] Yeah but it's
not completely over,

there's a lot of people around here

that would be uncomfortable
with transgender.

- I don't have a problem,

I never run into it.

- [Justin] You will.

- Not really, it depends
on how you go about it.

- [Justin] Even one of your brothers

is really uncomfortable with you.

- With me, that's fine.

- [Justin] Yeah with the
transgender part of it.

- Yeah I know but that's just because

he doesn't understand
'cause he's a retard.

- [Man] We're about I would say

I'm imagining five minutes away.

- Yeah that's cool.

- [Man] I'm not sure exactly,
I'll get a ring on the phone.

- Alright, good evening, hello everyone.


- [Guy] Go Narnia!

- Hey, here's a fan of my cafe.

I ran into a couple of
lady friends of mine,

they're lovely people,

one kissed me on the cheek.

That's fine, okay, honey you look flippy,

if anyone thinks I'm
lesbian, I am not, okay?

I prefer the pole so much
more than the hole, alright?

- [Justin] Ashleigh has now
been taking female hormones

for over two years.

Her body is unlikely to
transform much further

without surgery

which she says she's still saving for,

but something has changed.

- Stockings, bras.

- [Justin] Ashleigh has
started to wear dresses.

- Socks, course I don't
dress like this for work,

I'm just in jeans and a T-shirt.

Some of it's kind of a bit nunnery though,

what do you think?


- [Justin] Do you wonder why

you weren't dressing like this sooner?

- I guess I wasn't ready for it,

but I don't know, it was
getting over the fear

to do it, and I've done it,

and it's just so much better.

- [Justin] How'd your mum respond

when she first saw you in that dress?

- Actually she was a bit like,

oh, oh, don't go out looking like that.

It's a matter about being
comfortable with yourself,

but how you'd always rely on
other people accepting you.

I didn't want to be one of
those desperate cyber people

but alas, I'm now one one of
those desperate cyber people.

So yeah.

- [Justin] Do you think you're desperate?

- [Ashleigh] To go on the
internet looking for someone, yes.

- [Justin] So you're
wanting to go on some dates

with some guys?

- [Ashleigh] Yes, it'd be
nice to go out with a guy,

who's like I said, I've
got lots of male friends

but no one special.

- [Justin] You're advertising
yourself as a transgender?

- [Ashleigh] Yeah, I have to.

- [Justin] Have you met anyone?

- [Ashleigh] No not yet.

On the internet you can be

sort of faceless to someone to begin with.

You can literally say
exactly what you want.

You can sort of tell who's
a bit sleazy and weird

and who seems like just normal,

but inevitably there's
always a sexual innuendo

with a lot of them.

There's one or two that have emailed me

and they seem really friendly and normal

but I always want to be contacted by them

because I just don't
want any bad responses,

'cause I don't want to freak out

like a transgender just emailed me.

- [Justin] What kind of guys

are responding to you?

- Well a lot of them don't have photos,

I'm not too sure,

but they're young, they're old-ish.

- [Justin] Do they all
call themselves straight?

- Yeah, that's what I like.

- [Justin] Would you like
somebody that was honest and kind

and a good person

even if you didn't they're
physically attractive?

- Well for me personally,

being that I'm not
physically perfect for a man,

I'm not yet a woman,

it's like who am I to judge
what someone looks like?

If they're willing to like me and stuff.

- [Justin] So you are
prepared to compromise

because you feel that a
man would be compromising

by dating you.

- I suppose yes.

- Although I say she's very
confident in being female

I don't think she's as
confident as she displays.

I guess because she was
struggling with these issues

through puberty

and she wasn't doing what
the rest of us were doing

which was playing with the other

playing with the partners
we were looking for.

And so she is really innocent and naive

in the ways of
relationships and the world.

- [Justin] Ashleigh's
friend Maria said to me,

Ashleigh really wants
to get married one day.

Could you imagine that?

Would you be giving her away?

- Well, it might be a quiet wedding.

- [Justin] Why do you say that?

- Well I dunno, but I suppose I could,

yes I could do that.

- [Ashleigh] I've never
been close with my family,

I don't agree with any of
their choices in their lives,

they don't agree with any of mine.

- I think she has some really
intense sadness sometimes,

and she never shows that,

but you see it sometimes.

- [Justin] Ashleigh said to me once

that she's lived a lie so long

that she's just so used
to performing and being,

I just wonder if anybody really knows her.

- It's amazing 'cause in this interview,

I'm starting to say how much
do I know about her choices?

(phone ringing)

- [Justin] So tell me
what kind of guy is this?

- He's 22, I met him online.

He's a heterosexual male, he plays rugby,

he's a builder, he's really cool

and he just wants to hold me and hug me.

(phone ringing)


Oh, send me another pic please, cutie.

It's like a fixation with,

they wanna see photos of you constantly.

I don't know, for guys
it's very visual I guess,

I dunno.

I can't believe you can
see everything did you?

- [Justin] I can't see, what did you say.

- Oh thank God,

I just said here's a picture
of me I took the other night.

- [Justin] Let's see the picture?

- No.

- [Justin] Why, was it, do you
sending him something sexy?

- Yeah.

- [Justin] What was the picture of?

- Just me, looking at myself.

They're straight men,
they say they're not gay,

and that's true, it's just
a little facet of them

that they find attractive with a woman.

To me, I didn't think
there were guys out there

who would be interested in it like that,

and it's really cool

but at the end of the
day I want my vagina,

it's not about having sex with a penis.

It's hard to explain
but I want that feeling

of being a woman having made love to.

So yeah.

- [Justin] So are you scared

about meeting some of these guys?

- No, because I still chat away,

I mean I'm 29 and a virgin,

but I know about the birds
and the bees and stuff,

I'm aware of sex and everything about it,

I'm not estranged to any of it,

I just haven't done any of it, so yeah.

- [Justin] So you consider
yourself to be a virgin.

- Yeah, technically I am.

- [Justin] Why?

- Because my penis hasn't
penetrated anything.

Isn't that what losing your virginity is?

(soft piano music)

- [Justin] So tell me who is this guy,

how old is, and what's his...

- Um, well, he's 22,

he lives here in Auckland,

and yeah I just met him online.

I'm so excited about seeing him,

I haven't seen him in two whole weeks.

- [Justin] You're quite
taken with him, aren't you?

- Slightly, yes.

He likes me, you know,

he's not like,

I've had so many male friends and stuff

and it's always like

they're just too scared to
go that next level with me,

whereas he's not.

I'm scared of Scott seeing
me like this though,

this look rather heinous.

Oh my God the very first time I met him,

I was in my bathrobe
with a towel on my head

and no makeup on so.


This must be him.

God I hope it's him.


How are you?

Sorry you've caught me
halfway getting ready.


I missed you.

Come in come in come in come in.

I missed you.

That night I didn't care about anyone else

and we just stuck
together the whole night.

Normally when you go clubbing

you're checking out everyone

checking to see who's watching you,

but I only had eyes for him,

it was really weird.

Like he'd walk behind me,

and he'd say oh they were looking at us.

Even though the clubbing
was fun and phenomenal,

the best part is always getting home

and then you get to snuggle.

I really enjoyed that.

It's bizarre, it's horrible
emotions and feelings.

I just feel I hope I'm
not inadequate for him.

I'm in constant fear of him not liking me,

which is really bizarre isn't it?

- [Justin] Inadequate in what way?

- I don't know, 'cause I'm not.

I dress up like a girl and stuff,

and I act and look like one,

I'm, I do, but at the same time,

you just always wonder is it good enough?

Does it makes sense?

Well I never used to think that.

- [Justin] Now that she's dating,

Ashleigh's desire for surgery

is greater than ever,

but she still doesn't have the money

to fund a full gender
reassignment operation.

However, Ashleigh has come up with a plan

that in the interim, might
make her less masculine.

- I'm gonna go see Tony,

he's a urologist,

and we're gonna look at
just removing my testicles.

I'm having a consultation with him

about getting rid of my testicles

so I don't produce any more testosterone.

- [Justin] And do you
think that he'll do it?

- I don't see why he won't,

he's done it for guys who have cancer.

- [Justin] How much would this cost?

- I have no idea.

We're probably talking thousands,

everything costs thousands, so yeah.

- [Justin] Is that why you
haven't got anything done yet?

- No, all my money at the moment

is going into my struggling
business, so yeah.

- I understand that you're interested

in having your testicles
removed, is that right?

- Yeah is that alright?

I presume testosterone is my sex drive.

- [Tony] Correct.

- So without it I won't have a sex drive?

- [Tony] You will tend to
lose your sex drive, yeah.

- But when I'm stimulated,

I'll get in the mood, wouldn't I?

- Yes you will do.

I would want to if I could

to see some letter or
something from a counselor,

psychologist, psychiatrist or something.

- Oh yeah, psychological
reports and all that.

- 'Cause the fear from my point of view

is that you might change your mind though.

What happens if you change your mind?

- No I don't think I'll
be changing my mind,

there's no fear of that.

It's just very degrading
being called illness

and psychological problem,

it's just like, there's
nothing wrong with me,

I just want to get a vagina,

I'm not insane for God sakes.

- We're trying to make sure that

we're not making a mistake.
- Oh no absolutely.

- And we don't want to make
a mistake on your behalf.

- [Justin] So you think you're
gonna have to go through

the psych analysis?

- If I have to I have to,

but it's just soul-destroying.

I'm affecting no one but myself,

so I don't see why I need permission

to do things for myself

when there are people
who can change themselves

to look like their favorite cats

and get full-body tattoos and implants

and it's just, are they saner than I am?

(melancholy piano music)

He dumped me.

He didn't break up with, he dumped me.

There's a difference.

I said it isn't because
you're embarrassed of me?

He goes oh hell no, no not at all.

It's just the distance

and I don't think I'm
ready for a relationship.

Yeah, 22, I guess he
wasn't ready to commit.

- [Justin] Ashleigh had hoped

that Cafe Narnia would be a place

where you could escape the real world.

The cafe was also supposed
to finance her dream

of becoming a woman.

But over the next year

the harsh reality of business

encroaches upon Ashleigh's plans

and she loses her cafe.

- Selling the cafe was hard.

Just trying to get a buyer.

- [Woman] Did you make
any money out of this?

- No, none whatsoever.

- We really watched the
disintegration of Narnia with her

over six months which she just gave up,

mentally, she still went every day

but totally gave up in her head.

She had no idea financially
what was happening,

and Lindsay and his wife
sort of took her aside

and said you've got about one more month

before we go bankrupt, we need to sell.

- [Justin] Did she sell
it for not much money?

- They sold it for less than they needed,

they now have debt to clear.

- [Justin] Wow so she's got that debt

alone to finance

before she can even think about

having any surgery or anything.

Despite having lost her business,

Ashleigh is still dreaming

about traveling to Thailand

to have gender reassignment surgery.

- [Ashleigh] Oh that looks like a hole.

- [Justin] It looks real doesn't it?

- It does, well I presume.

- [Justin] I realized
that we've never talked

about what the operation
actually involved,

and I'm curious to find out

how much Ashleigh knows.

You're hospitalized for about six days,

so you need to pay for a hotel
for the rest of your time.

- Oh I see, 'cause you
can't fly obviously.

- [Justin] No but also,

you can't even go to
the toilet afterwards.

- Oh my God.

- [Justin] And so you have a catheter

that has to get changed and cleaned,

and then after a few days

you can go to the toilet

but they want to keep you
coming daily for check-ups.

- Yeah fair enough.

- [Justin] 'Cause you've got
stitches that are healing

and it's pretty major surgery.

(ominous music)

- I don't understand a lot of these terms.

- [Justin] Well you
should do some research.

- [Ashleigh] God that's so fascinating,

I've never really sat like this

and thought about it to such a degree.

- [Justin] Like what?

- Sort of like,

I've accepted being a woman,

but I haven't got there
yet, if that makes sense.

- [Justin] Another one.

- I know I'm so anti defining
me being transgender,

but until I become a
woman I'm transgender.

And it does define me

in so much more of a large way

than as little as I'd
like to think it does.

I think I need to focus
on being transgender

and admit, okay I'm transgender

and this is what I've got to do.

You know how I say

oh but I'm just a woman now,

but really I'm not.

I have to admit,

I've totally gone about
it entirely the wrong way.

I'm transgender until I become a woman.

Give me this month and see what happens.

(jazzy music)


(kids cheering)

- [Ashleigh] Alright, we're
coming up to our final guest

for the evening and it's Tonya Lewis, yay.

- [Justin] Just before
Ashleigh sold Narnia,

her friends Maria and Brian

filmed a chat show at the cafe,

which Ashleigh hosted.

- Go Ash.

- [Justin] Their ultimate goal

is to get the program
played on regional TV.

But six months on,

the couple is still editing
the show in their spare time

even though Ashleigh has since disappeared

from their lives.

- Wide.

We're not part of her life
by her choice anymore.

I rang her for quite a while

and then when she stopped
returning my calls,

I stopped ringing.

- [Justin] So when you
watch this, do you miss her?

- Yeah.

- Yeah.

- Like crazy.

- How many years have
we known each other now?

Roughly just throw them out there,

oh God I'm ashamed to know it.

Do we dare talk about it?

- This is beautiful.

- Tanya's lesbian experience
ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you very much, yes.

- You were very manly back then.

You were.

- I was exactly like this I swear to God.

- She was Graham, back then.

- [Ashleigh] The good old times.

(water running)

- I was just sort of like
in the shower one day

and I thought, going out

I always wondered if I
was being judged first

on a tranny as opposed to a person,

and I don't like that.

And then I just thought about it

it's like why can't I just be both?

Why can't I just be a male's body

with a female brain?

It's actually accepting

that I am a female
trapped in a male's body,

but being totally accepting
of being in a male's body.

- [Justin] Were you not
comfortable trying to be a woman?

- I was, but it always such the effort,

because I've got the frame of a male,

I had facial hair of a male.

If I'd have gotten rid of it all,

if I'd had the op,

I would always still feel like,

am I a convincing female, you know?

I don't know if I could've
come to terms with that.

- [Justin] The morning
that Ashleigh realized

surgery wasn't an option,

he immediately stopped
taking the female hormones

that he'd been on for over four years

and went back to living as a man.

- She was successfully accepted as a woman

in all of her social circles.

But she was still so terribly unhappy,

particularly in relationships.

So terribly, terribly lonely,

and felt like there was no
one who would accept her

with a penis as a woman.

It was such a shock,

I ran into her and she said,

oh by the way I'm a man.

- I'm not distancing myself

because I don't like them or anything

it's just that I'm not the person

who they really probably fell
in love with as a friend.

- She's in a tough spot,

I think socially she's in a tough spot.

She has her own identity to sort out.

- Yeah maybe.

I think if she had the money

at the time when she was
most excited about it,

it would've happened.

- Everything in me at the time

did want to be a woman.

But the way I'm feeling right now

I'm glad I've never had the money for it,

because I would regret it, I would.

- [Justin] So why do you
think you were so adamant,

so adamant that you were a woman.

- I know.

- [Justin] That you were gonna do this,

you were gonna go through it.
- I was so adamant

I was a woman

because I do have the mind of a woman.

And therefore I must be a woman.

But as I said, I just
came to a realization

that's like, but it doesn't
mean I have to change

in any way to be who I want to be.

- [Justin] Here's an idea for you.

- Go on.

- [Justin] This is something
I thought, I wondered if...

- 'Cause you've always
doubted it, haven't you?

Haven't you?

I dunno.

- [Justin] That you're a woman.

- Or that I wanted to do it.

- [Justin] I've often
doubted that you were gonna

go through with it, yes.

_ 'Cause I always thought,

why aren't I like all those other trannies

who were so I hated the,

the day it comes off will be
the happiest day of my life,

and things like that,

and I just thought,

would it be the happiest day of my life?

- [Justin] Could it be

that you felt it was more normal

or would feel better to
be a woman with a man,

than a man with a man,

and that's where you were going

with thinking.

- Do I think it would be better

to be a woman with a man

as opposed to a man with a man?

- [Justin] And that's why
you wanted to become a woman?

- Probably, yeah.

'Cause I wanted men to find me attractive,

and I thought the most obvious way

is to become female.

- [Maria] I'm really worried
about her at the moment.

I feel like she's really adrift.

I feel like she's on a
really self-destructive path

with the amount of men that she's seeing.

(phone beeping)

- [Justin] So the men that
you're having sex with now,

do you think they see you as a gay man?

- I don't know, I really don't know,

but that doesn't bother me

'cause they're attracted to me,

so whatever I'm doing,

me being myself is attractive to them.

- [Justin] And are they gay?

- Um straight, apparently.


No gay.

No, no gay.

If there was to be a gay,

I'd prefer a straight acting male.

I don't like effeminate people,

I'm not attractive to
women or effeminate men.

- [Justin] I can't help but have a feeling

that there's a degree of
internalized homophobia in you.

- No not necessarily, no.

I don't class myself
as a gay male as such,

which probably people are saying

but no you must be

because you're now a boy

and you're having sex with boys.

It's like well that's fine

but I've still got the mind of a female.

It's never been a sexuality issue.

I've always been attracted
to men as a female

if that makes sense.

- [Justin] Well that's
what a lot of gay men

might say, too.

What are your dreams now?

- I don't really have any.

- [Justin] Where do you think you'll be

in ten year's time?

- [Ashleigh] I have no idea, none.

- [Justin] Where would you like to be?

- I don't know, I don't know.

(seagulls calling)

- [Justin] It's another six months

until I hear from Ashleigh again,

but when I do,

he's sounding a lot more positive,

and looking increasingly masculine.

- Now that I'm a little
bit further on and stuff

it's like whoa, I'm so glad I didn't

because I feel like I've
gotten back to myself now.

Mum was just over the moon,

'cause yes, my baby boy's back.

Because it always uncomfortable for mum,

because she just didn't understand.

Everyone's far more
comfortable with me like this.

I think it's because they
feel like I'm more at ease.

People are like, you've
done the right thing.

Perhaps they're right it's like,

yeah I'm glad I didn't go through it all

and become a woman

because I shudder to think,

'cause once you do it you can't go back

and if I made this sort
of epiphany afterwards,

shit, what was I to do?

- [Justin] Ashleigh is back

working in a cafe,

and is surrounded by a
new collection of friends,

many of whom identify as gay.

- I know isn't it good?

Now I realize almost like,

it was an alter-ego that
I was living every day

and that was I think unhealthy.

A lot of people don't have this problem

of trying to discover themselves

or figure out exactly what they are.

Well those look like breasts, don't they?

He's from the white ghetto.

- [Justin] Is there a big difference

in the type of men that write to you know?

- Ay, no men are men.

Pretty much the same.

A lot of men use this
as like a hookup thing.

But then there are
sincere people out there

but there are a lot of weirdos too.

Like I said,

I don't like to think
of myself as a weirdo,

like a lot of people obviously are.

- [Justin] Why do you have such a problem

with the idea of being gay?

- I don't now,

now that I realize I'm
just an effeminate gay man

I suppose, with very large
female characteristics.

And the more that I am like this,

the more I'm actually really able

to accept that I'm gay believe it or not.

I'm a man who likes men.

I was always called she
as a little boy growing up

and stuff like that,

and it just sort of stuck with me I guess.

Maybe it confused a little gay boy.

- [Justin] Have you had any
gay role models in your life

when you were growing up, at all?

- No, no, I've got gay friends,

I wouldn't call them role models,

they're just friends.

- [Justin] When you were a boy

or when you were growing up

did you ever know any gay people

who are older that
could've been a role model.

- No, never.

- [Justin] Gay people are
kind of a little bit invisible

in this town aren't they?

There's no gay bars and
there's no sort of...

- No, no, it's very like,

or not redneck, it's just very kiwi.

But yeah no, I'm just a gay man.

- [Justin] Does this surprise you?

- Yes, but at the same time,

it's just so easy.

Have I just taken the longest road round

to admit I'm gay?


♪ This life's awesome this life's great ♪

♪ Waking up man I can't wait ♪

♪ 'Cause every day just
keeps getting better ♪

♪ This life rules man yep you said it ♪

♪ God I love just being alive ♪

♪ I could live a million times ♪

♪ I'm happy to be here I really am ♪

♪ This is the best time I've ever had ♪

♪ This life's amazing ♪

♪ Oh my God it's incredible ♪

♪ If you asked me to live again ♪

♪ I'd say you bet I will ♪

♪ This life's awesome this life's great ♪

♪ Waking up man I can't wait ♪

♪ 'Cause every day just
keeps getting better ♪

♪ This life rules man yep you said it ♪

♪ God I love just being alive ♪

♪ I could live a million times ♪

♪ I'm happy to be here I really am ♪

♪ This is the best time I've ever had ♪