Tori Banks (lady pictured above) used to be a gay man called Russell. A 23-year-old male model and part-time barman in his prime – popular, happy and looking forward to a career in theatre.
But one dark day a random evil thug called Mitchell Dean destroyed his world. Dean ran into the pub where Russell worked, threw lighter fuel in his face and set him ablaze.
Russell was left with 30 per cent burns to his upper body and kept in a coma with little chance of survival. When he did fight back from the brink of death and saw himself in the mirror, he contemplated suicide.
Then, from somewhere stretching back into his childhood, a ray of hope emerged.
“I didn’t want to go on living because the attack had taken every last ounce of my identity away from me. I didn’t look or feel like Russell any more. Then something life-changing happened. One night I was at home when I thought that to carry on I had to be someone else. Someone better. I realised it was a clean slate and a chance to be anything I wanted. That thing wasn’t a gay man any more – it was a woman.
Everything in me told me that. I looked back at the way I was as a child – always opting for girly clothes and toys. I remembered realising I fancied boys for the first time and being told by people I was gay, so that was what I accepted. But deep down it wasn’t that. I was born in the wrong body, but I’d suppressed it.”Russell realised there was no going back. So Tori must go forward.
“I found something inside myself that night stronger than I ever imagined. Russell died in those flames but I hadn’t. I was still alive and I had a chance to start again. Everything I used to be had been stripped away and I was left with one thing – a woman. Tori was the phoenix rising from the ashes.”Now Tori is preparing to start her clinical sex-change next week after 18 months proving she can live as a woman.