An Epworth woman who has been crowned ‘Miss Transgender UK’ is setting up support groups to help others on their transition journey.
Bea Wood, aged 29, won the title at the nationwide pageant, which is specifically for transgender women, last month.
Since then, she has been invited to a be a judge at two other pageants and has also been signed to her first modelling agency - Dream Street.
However, Bea, who has lived in Epworth with her adoptive parents for around 14 years, is focused on helping people closer to home for now.
She said: “I first started dressing as a woman four years ago because I just couldn’t take dressing as man anymore so I bit the bullet and just did it.
“I lost friends and family because of it. It was so hard because I wanted to scream that I was still the same person in my head and my heart that I have always been.
“It was a very difficult time because I was being true to myself, and I felt free. I was losing so much but also gaining so much.
“When I went out, it was like I was an alien. People would stare at me or make comments. Some would ask questions.
“I think a lot of people knew what it meant to be transgender, but they’d never actually met one and they didn’t know how to react.
“I like to think I have now educated people. I can go in to my local pub and people talk to me like normal. It is a normal thing to be transgender.
“I also want to help other people who are going through something similar to what I did, and make them feel positive about their choice.
“That’s why I am setting up support groups in Epworth and also in Doncaster, so anyone in the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender (LGBT) community can come and talk to me, as someone who knows what it’s like.
Bea, who works as a model called Dark Butterfly, is hoping to launch her support groups in January but exact dates are not yet confirmed.
She added: “This whole process has been a dream. I only started modelling a few months ago, and I never imagined that I would win the pageant.
“Not only did I win the whole thing, I also won an award for Inspirational Woman and also Best Inspirational Outfit.”
“I now hope that I can be a transgender role model and inspire others. I want to use my title to do some good.
“Once I get the support groups up an running I’ll be giving talks about my experiences and I will do my best to give people advice and answer their questions.
“If people come to me with an genuine and respectful question, I will give them an honest answer.
“I’ve also recently set up a Facebook group and I’ve already helped three people on their journey. That means the world to me.”
Bea has had support from her parents, but also the community. Becki Lawrence of Axholme Sewing helped Bea to make a giant pair of angel wings, which she wore with pride on the catwalk at the Miss Transgender UK final.
She added: “It’s great to see the change in attitude over the last four years, and I hope I can continue to change opinions.”
Bea has been living as a woman for the last four years. However, before her recent pageant win she had faced stigma in her pursuit of a modelling career.
She said: “I am a woman. I live as a woman and my passport says I am a woman. Yet, when I first entered a pageant I got kicked out because I wasn’t born a woman.
“I’d reached the finals of a pageant and when I rang up to check everything was okay I was told I could no longer take part because I was transgender. That was very disappointing.
“I have also had to battle with doctors to get my female hormones in the past. I have faced a lot of discrimination on my journey.
“But, I am a woman. Next year, I will be going for Thailand to continue my transition, where I hope I will be getting breast surgery, have my Adam’s apple removed and also my voice made higher.”
As well as supporting people on their personal LGBT journeys, Bea also wants to help their families.
She said: “My mum and dad have been incredibly supportive. It was very, very difficult for them at first. They’ve had to grieve for losing their son, but they have been accepting of me as a woman.
“I think it’s important for me to be able to help families as well as the individuals. Everyone needs support.
“If people can talk to me as a real transgender woman and see that I’m making my journey successfully then it might help them to understand what their loved one is going through.” Bea will start her support sessions in Epworth and Doncaster in the new year, but she hopes that this is only the beginning of her journey.
She said: “I only won the pageant a couple of weeks ago and now all this has happened, so who knows where it might lead.”
For more information about Bea, please search ‘Bea Wood Miss Transgender UK winner 2017/18’ on Facebook.
Bea is also setting up her own website, which will be available soon at www.beayourself.co.uk.