A trans woman who kept her identity secret for 16 YEARS has told of her relief at opening up and telling her fiance she was born physically male.
Jamie Pandit, now 32, has lived as a woman since the age of 16, but had only revealed her past to close family, after years of bullying in her teens.
But when she met now-fiance, Phil Silva, 38, on Bumble, they hit it off instantly and she knew she wanted to reveal her past.
After a month of dating – and already saying ‘I love you’ and being intimate – she plucked up the courage to tell him she didn’t used to present as female.
And she was over the moon when he simply replied “I see you for who you are, you’re a woman, and you’re beautiful”.
The pair are now engaged, and Phil has continued to be as supportive as ever, and helped her to come out publicly in September on her YouTube channel.
Jamie from Toronto said: “I was living in anxiety every day for weeks, in case someone found out and told him my secret before I had.
“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.
“I remember thinking afterwards ‘Oh wow, somebody really loves me for me’.
“Now we’re planning our wedding for next year and he’s still as supportive as he was then – and he stood by me when I made the choice to come out publicly in September.
“Phil has always been so supportive – I feel so emotional thinking about it.
“I feel like I’m living in a dream.”
Jamie, who moved to Canada from Bangladesh aged 11, always knew she was different, but realised she was transgender aged 14.
She said she was bullied by her peers while she attempted to transition.
She said: “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.”
At 17, she had a ‘fresh start’ by moving away from her home, family and friends in Toronto – and began presenting outwardly as a woman all the time, in London, Ontario.
She began her hormone therapy that year with testosterone blockers, but said she didn’t truly feel like a woman until she had her transition surgery in 2012, aged 24.
She then moved back to Toronto to be closer to her family – but most people had no idea she was transgender, and she said she was “living in stealth”.
The YouTuber, who previously managed a Toronto fashion boutique, began dating for the first time since her surgery, and met restaurant-owner Phil, from Portugal, in 2016.
She said: “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.
“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 dinner at a nice restaurant and they “really hit it off” – laughing, drinking wine and chatting until the early hours.
She said: “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.”
Over the following weeks, Jamie and Phil went on several more dates, met each others’ families, became intimate and even said the ‘L-word’, – but Phil still didn’t know.
Phil invited Jamie to spend a romantic weekend in New York with him – and she decided to tell him the truth before the trip.
She said: “He had stayed over at mine one night, and I forced myself to be honest with him.
“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.
“I remember thinking afterwards, ‘Oh wow, somebody really loves me for me, and they’re ok with who I am.’”
The couple moved into a condo together in Toronto after dating for just five months, and while on holiday in Italy last year, Phil got down on one knee.
Jamie said: “It was a beautiful moment, because I realised he was committed to being on this journey with me.
“Being with a transgender person comes with a lot of challenges, but he was willing to accept those because he put our relationship first.”
They are planning their wedding for 2021 and she came out publicly as transgender in September this year on her YouTube channel.
She said: “There were times I wanted to back out, but he was right there by me saying, ‘I’m proud of you and I’m proud of us, I don’t care what people think.’
“Being with a transgender person is about more than just loving me, it’s about understanding me and what I’ve been through, and being by my side every day.
“From that moment when I first told him the truth, he’s done exactly that.”
“I feel like I’m living in a dream.”