MY BATTLE TO BECOME A WOMAN; Diane Delight at Pounds 5,000 Op Refund

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DELIGHTED transsexual Diane Hughes was last night celebrating after winning her two-and-a-half year op battle.

Diane, 45, formerly known as Richard, will now get back the pounds 5,000 she had to pay for the private operation.

She said last night: "We won, we didn't even have to go to court.

"I got a letter from my solicitor to say the Southern Health Board wanted to settle out of court."

Diane's fight began 30 months ago when she first applied to the health board for funding for a sex-change.

She explained: "They refused because they told me there was no medical necessity or medical urgency.

"But I had provided them with so much medical information about what my condition is and I told them about the high rate of suicide among trans- sexuals, because they feel that's their only escape.

"I appealed the decision and then tried to contact the Health Minister, Micheal Martin, but got no reply.

"He didn't seem to want to deal with me at all and we weren't getting anywhere."

Diane has been married to 40-year-old Caroline for the past 23 years and they have a 13-year-old son, Gareth.

The strain of Diane's plight was beginning to take its toll on the family and something had to be done.

Diane, from Macroom, Co Cork, said: "I was on hormone treatments for about four years to bring on femininity.

"And I was really worried about how strong the medication was.

"The treatment can cause serious liver damage, but I thought my surgery would happen quicker than it did.

"It was Caroline who finally said, 'We're going to get the money from somewhere, you can't go on like this'.

"So last September we took out a bank loan and I went over to England and had the surgery.

"The whole thing cost pounds 5,000 and the operation was only about four hours long.

"It was a success and I haven't had any problems since.

"But the cost really set us back.

"I got in touch with a solicitor and he said my rights were being infringed.

"He said I had a really strong case for getting my costs paid by the health board.

"He was a brilliant guy and I'm very grateful to him for all his help.

"Health boards try to put transsexuals off by refusing applications all the time.

"Many people give up and go no further, but those who go to court usually win.

"I am happy that I got the settlement, but we didn't get anything for the stress or anguish my family went through.

"What I think is most important is that I have set a precedent for others like me.

"Figures from five years ago show there are about 500 trans-sexuals in Ireland but experts believe numbers are increasing every year. …