Trans Limerick student appeals to kindness of strangers for help with €25k gender surgery

'I can put on as much make-up as I want and wear whatever I want and I’ll feel like a girl, but when I leave the house it’s another story': Ayesha opens up about difficulty of living with gender dysphoria

Ayesha says she felt truer as a woman

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

A 21-year-old fashion student who is hoping to undergo gender-affirming surgery has set up a GoFundMe page in a bid to raise the money to pay for expensive medical procedures.

Ayesha Mulvihill is hoping that the kindness of strangers will help her.

She explained that as all her money has been spent on the increased cost of living and fashion internships, she cannot afford the €25,000 needed for facial feminisation surgery and body sculpting in Ireland.

Ayesha opened up about the difficulty of living with gender dysphoria and how she hopes her efforts will eventually lead to a happier life.

Ayesha has set up a GoFundMe

She explained how dysphoria, which is defined as a state of great unease with your body that can have negative effects on your mental health, can be exacerbated by how people treat her.

"It's difficult to describe exactly how it feels," Ayesha, said. "But, for example, I could be looking in the mirror. And a 'normal' person, and I don't like using that phrase but I will for now, would think 'I don't like my hair colour or 'I don't like my nose'.

"And they want to change some aspect of their appearance for vanity reasons. Whereas, for me, when I look in the mirror I may also think 'I don't like my nose' but it's not because I have an ugly nose, it's because I have a man's nose.

"It's different, and I think that's what people don't really understand.

"They may think it has something do with vanity and say, 'oh, you just feel ugly and now you're asking for people's money so you can pay for plastic surgery'.

"But that's not it at all. I'm asking for help.

"At the moment, the way I'm living, I'm not very happy. I can put on as much make-up as I want and I can wear whatever I want and I'll feel like a girl and look like a girl, to me.

"But then, when I leave the house, it can become a completely other story. I could be walking down the street and I'd get people shouting at me, things like, 'you're a man', and other slurs and gender-based remarks and that has an effect.

"It makes you think, 'if only I had woman's face'. It's very hard to deal with. You're already so hard on yourself, that when other people add to it, it makes it worse."

Ayesha explained that while she was born male, she never "felt" male.

"I know you can't base [what gender you relate to] just on hobbies, but I always liked dolls, I always liked girly things. In this day and age, you can't base someone's gender just on what they liked as a child. Like, everybody can play with anything in childhood without it having any bearing on how they grow up.

"But I only came to a realisation recently. I always knew that I was different but I never really knew what it was. I just felt that everything will be fine but during the first lockdown, over summer, I was just stuck with my own thoughts, in isolation. I wasn't at home with my family because I was in college and I stayed on my own for a few weeks before I went home.

Ayesha has set up a GoFundMe

"But during that time, when you're just stuck by yourself, with your own self-talk, it did give me time to reflect. And when I thought about how I felt truer being a woman - everything kind of just lifted.

"And also, I was online a lot, on Zoom, at various DJ events that were based in America and there were many people from all different walks of life that I could interact with.

"I had never really met a transperson before, other than the two people in my college when I started there.

"So I never really got to ask questions but when I met these transgirls on the internet, at these parties, I was just like, 'wow, the way you feel is the way I feel'. And it was almost an acceptance, because while I always knew I was a woman, I always felt it would be too hard to deal with.

"I thought that if I was to transition into a woman I could really ostracise myself from society. Like, even being gay can be hard enough, let alone being transgender.

"God forbid that you should leave the house with a wig on in Ireland, people would be shocked by it. But people do this every day in other countries, so there is a bit of the Irish small-town mentality to deal with."

Ayesha has set up a GoFundMe

Ayesha has now embarked on her expensive journey that is just something "that I need to do".

"My dream is just to be seen as a normal, regular girl by regular people. It's called 'passing', like passing as a girl to the general public. There is a belief in the trans community that you don't have to look like a girl to be one and you don't need other people's validation to feel that you are a girl.

"But it's just something I would like. I just want to be myself and be comfortable when I go out in public. I don't want people to stare at me any more."

Ayesha's GoFundMe page can be accessed on ww.gofundme.com/f/ayeshas-transition-fund

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