A burly bearded trucker has performed the biggest U-turn of his life and gone from male to female – with the support of colleagues.
Three-times married Roxy Cuthbertson, 63, spent more than 40 years on the road as a heavily-tattooed HGV driver named Ian.
But after years of living as a secret cross-dresser he plucked up courage to tell his boss – and was left weeping with joy when they told him they didn’t mind.
Roxy, who is 6’3″ tall, said: “The reaction when I first went to work as Roxy was ‘what the hell is going on’.
“I sat down, talked to them and they told me ‘whatever makes you happy’. It took them a while to get to calling me Roxy, but now they do and it’s great.”
Roxy, who has a grown-up son and has worked as an apprentice mechanic and doorman, said workmates even defend her while out on jobs.
She added: “When they’re making deliveries people say things like ‘have you got a tranny working for you?’ But the guys tell them ‘she’s not a tranny, she’s transgender’.
“I’ve talked to them about it, it’s all about educating people, and I love the fact they’ve accepted me.”
Roxy, from South Molton, Devon, said she always knew she was different and would try on her sister’s dresses as a child.
She said: “When I was nine or 10 years old, when my mum and sister went out I used to go into my sister’s room and try on her dresses.
“I thought it was just a bit of fun. At that age you don’t know exactly what’s going on.
“It’s wrong to say that at nine years old I knew I was different, I was far too young. It was nice to do it, but it didn’t sink in.”
Roxy left school at 15 and got a job as an apprentice mechanic.
She recalled: “As a teenager I used to try and blank it out. At that time I was joining in with the lads. I was suppressing who I really was.
“I think my mum knew, but she never, ever said. I used to live at home with mum and tried to hide things.”
Despite struggling with her sexuality, Roxy married three times – but they all sadly ended in failure.
She said: “The first was in my early twenties but it was annulled because we never consummated.
“She knew something was wrong. She just said to me after a month ‘this is no good’ and she was right.
“I met another girl and got married again. We had a son, he’s 36 now. It was ok for a while.
“I was working away a lot, driving the trucks. I could dress up then while I was away. I was leading a double life.
“It helped that I could be Roxy while I was away, but when I was home I was Ian.
“I used to put a dress on and walk around, but I never went out in the open, just in quiet places.”
The couple drifted apart and separated only for Roxy to marry a third time.
She divorced five years ago and then made the brave decision to live publicly as a woman.
She said: “I just decided ‘it’s my time now’. I’d been locked away, imprisoned in my own body. It took me a while to figure things out.
“I went to see a therapist and she was so good, she told me I was cross gender.
“I moved into my own little rented cottage, that’s when I really started experimenting on my own.
“I could do what I wanted. I started really dressing up and buying myself wigs. But I was still only going out at nights.”
But the biggest challenge was making the full transition in public and at work.
“One day I went to work with nail varnish on, when the guys noticed I said I’d done it for a bet.
“Another day I wore a wig to work, the lads were all having a laugh, saying ‘Ian, you crack us up’.”
Roxy was called into the office about the wig and ended up blurting out that she crossdressed.
“The boss was absolutely brilliant about it. He said whatever I did outside work was up to me. I said I’d keep it out of work. He was good as gold. But I was still leading a double life.”
While on a job one day a 4×4 pulled up alongside her truck and her bosses spotted her driving down the motorway in her wig.
“I got called in the next day. I’d worked for the firm for 10 years. I went in and told them it was ripping me apart, that I was living a double life.
“I’ve known the boss for years. He’s old school and couldn’t get his head around it.
“We talked for ages and I told him I was in the process of changing my name to Roxy by deed poll. He’ll never really understand but he has been fantastic.”
After overcoming that hurdle, Roxy is hoping to start gender re-assignment in September to begin the full physical transition from man to woman.