When former soldier Roland Mery was told he had to wait two years for gender reassignment surgery, he decided that his 61 years of being a man was enough. The married father of four told his wife that he had a headache and walked to the bathroom of their home with a bottle of painkillers and a homemade surgery kit.
Roland explained what happened once he got into the bathroom:
I had worked out exactly how I would do it and rehearsed it many times. It proved to me afterwards that your brain and emotions can overpower you so much. I had rehearsed the whole thing over and over. So when it came to actually doing it, the pain wasn’t an issue anymore. My priority was to just get rid of it all, but I obviously had to be very careful.
Roland seemingly has no regrets over the drastic action which cost him two pints of blood:
When I was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital afterwards, the doctor told me I had actually done quite a good job! From the moment I walked down the stairs after I did it I just felt right. I had repressed my feelings for so long.
While Roland was rushed to hospital, his wife of 23 years was held at the home; police originally suspected that she was responsible for his injuries.
Though Roland had previously admitted his desire to become a woman, Julie did not believe that it was something that he would go through with, until she saw him come down the stairs from the bathroom:
When he came down the stairs he was absolutely white. I thought he was dying. He yelled: ‘Ring 999 Julie, I’ve done it!
I wanted to go to the hospital with Roland, but I couldn’t because my home was being treated as a crime scene. There were forensics and police in the bathroom and they thought I might have done it. But when they went upstairs, what they saw told them Roland had planned this himself.
Roland claims that he first noticed that he was different from other boys when he was four years old. Comments from his father and friends led him to keep many of his thoughts secret until he walked into a clinic in Manchester at age 56.
After two psychological assessments, I started hormone treatment. But it was very expensive – about £275 a month, which I couldn’t afford. But I felt so at home, it was wonderful. But how could I explain this to my family?
The treatment got rid of all my anger and I felt so at peace with myself. But I couldn’t afford it and had to get a few months’ treatment, then leave it while I saved up more money by selling things.
Julie, for her part, is supportive of Roland’s actions:
You can’t get any closer than we are now. We’ve been through so much together. I’ve had cancer and post-natal depression and Roland supported me through that. And now, after seeing what he has been through for so long, I’m 110% supportive of him.
Roland, who is considering changing his name to the more feminine sounding Rolande, is positive about their future together and the two are thinking about renewing their vows.
In his own words:
I’m a woman now. But most of all I want to concentrate on being a good person and a good wife.