Hucknall-born transgender campaigner, Paris Lees, has backed the plight of former boxing promoter, Frank Maloney, who revealed this week that she is now living her life as a woman.
The sporting world was rocked by the news that Maloney, who once managed heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, was now known as Kellie Maloney and was undergoing gender reassignment.
But this week Miss Lees, who was born male but underwent gender transition in her late teenage years, says she was not surprised by the news and hoped it could pave the way for others who may feel they are different.
The 26-year-old said: “People are feeling more safe to come out now. We are now where we were 15 years ago when people started coming out and saying ‘I’m gay’.
“This is something that’s always been presented as being a mid-life crisis, but Kellie has felt this way all her life.
“I’m not surprised at all and I’m sure we’ll see more taking this step - people who are younger who do not want to waste their life whole life conforming to what people’s idea of who they should be.”
Kellie (61), said she felt she knew she was different from age of three, but kept her true identity a secret.
As Frank, she was a well-known figure in the sport of boxing, and had even stood as a UKIP candidate in the 2004 London mayoral elections.
Frank was even criticised during the mayoral campaigns for making homophobic comments.
For Paris though, the involvement in boxing and homophobia can often be a telltale sign.
“What’s really interesting is that a lot of transgender women do go into ‘macho’ careers,” added Paris.
“They often become body builders or go in the army - that’s because they think they are not who they are supposed to be and go the other way.
“They try to be like what they think a man should be, but it doesn’t work.
“Because Kellie was involved with boxing, people say it’s even more shocking, but I don’t think it is.
“I understand people have been very supportive, so this really give me hope that times have moved on.
“It’s a very vulnerable time for her, but it sounds like she has the support of her family, and I hope she will be alright.”
In recent years Paris has become a leading beacon in raising transgender awareness and even won the Positive Role Model Award for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) at the National Diversity Awards.
Last year she also appeared on the 200th issue front cover of Europe’s leading monthly glossy magazine for gay and bisexual women, DIVA.
“Things are going really well for me at the moment, it’s a very exciting time for transgender people, she added.
“People are talking about it more and it’s nice to be a part of that change.
“It’s a wonderful feeling,” she added.