I struggled with my Trevor's sex change..now we have a mother and daughter relationship.. MUM EMBRACES SON'S NEW IDENTITY.
BROWSING the make-up counters in a Belfast department store Lynn Skelton and Josie Halliwell look like your average mother and daughter indulging in some shopping together. But the truth is Josie, 27, was actually born a boy, named Trevor Douglas. And the girly outings the pair now enjoy follows years of bitterness, separation and anger as both mother and daughter battled to understand the confused girl born inside the wrong body.
Lynn, 50, from Gilford, Co Down, said: "I knew when Trevor was as young as four that something wasn't right.
"He didn't like Action Man or toy guns - he wanted to play with Barbie and Ariel The Little Mermaid instead. He did a lot of crying."
As Trevor got older, his behaviour became more erratic.
Lynn added: "He changed from a pleasant, well-mannered boy into a bundle of rage. He'd rip the Thomas The Tank Engine wallpaper off the wall in his bedroom and cut up his clothes with scissors. He was angry all the time."
By the time Trevor started secondary school Lynn had visited child psychologists begging for answers in her struggle to cope.
She said: "Trevor mitched school a lot and his grades began to suffer. That was very hard to see because he had always been so gifted academically.
"But he was picked on by the other boys at school so refused to go. Instead he'd retreat to his bedroom, rip the paint off the walls and cover his bedroom ceiling in wet tissue paper."
As Trevor neared his 15th birthday, he began to act in a very feminine way and was even caught trying on Lynn's clothes.
Unable to recognise her own son, Lynn's relationship with him began to crumble. They wouldn't speak for days and when they did they had ferocious arguments.
Lynn added: "I wanted him to be a man, but he was more feminine than any woman I knew. I started to reject him - I didn't want him close to me."
Eventually, the situation got so bad Trevor was sent to a boys' home.
Lynn added: "It was heartbreaking.
I felt a failure as a mother but there was also a sense of relief that I wouldn't have to deal with his behaviour anymore."
Two years later with Trevor living on his own in Belfast, the pair tentatively arranged to meet for lunch.
Lynn said: "I got the shock of my life because Trevor was dressed as a girl called Josie. She had long hair and was wearing make-up, a blouse and leggings. When we hugged I could feel her breasts and inside I just crumpled. I kept thinking, 'This is not my child, I had a boy'."
Lynn made an excuse and cut the meeting short.
She added: "I couldn't wait to get away. I felt my son had died and the person in front of me was a stranger. I cried the whole way home."
Five years passed before Lynn reached out to Josie again.
She said: "I went through a grieving process, crying myself to sleep at night.
"Then I remembered there was a child out there who needed me and my heart opened up. I wrote Josie a letter explaining everything I felt.
"'I don't want you to be without your mummy,' I wrote. 'If you need anything ring me'."
Josie called and the pair arranged to meet again. This time, the void between them had narrowed.
Lynn added: "It felt like my child again.
"We went shopping in Belfast and Josie advised me what to buy to flatter my figure. She even told me what face cream to buy for my crow's feet!
"Now we enjoy a mother-daughter relationship. We go shopping and out for meals. I still feel very maternal towards her.
"This year I can't wait to buy Josie make-up, perfume and girly things for Christmas.
"She is due to get her gender reassignment operation next year and I'll be there for her. I will be happy if Josie is content with herself. That is all I want for her."
Josie said: "I knew from a young age I was a girl. I felt like people were putting me in the wrong box. They automatically expected me to be into football and boys' things but I knew that was not me. I didn't get on with anyone at school and was getting beaten up badly. I started to act up.
"When I was 16, I was given the option of going into care. It took me to be amongst people that weren't family to be able to express myself.
"I missed having my mum around. At first, I felt like a dog at the pound and someone was going to come back and get me and say they had thrown me out accidentally and tell me, 'It's OK we love you'. But nobody came.
"I realised the only person I need to accept me is myself. I hated the sight of myself.
"It was a reflection of how my family and everyone else felt.
"But I've learned over the last six years you need to love yourself before you can be loved by other people.
"I don't blame my mum for what happened. We have paved over the past. We have forgiven each other."
Josie said her operation will be the beginning of a new chapter.
She added: "At the moment I am in shackles and I can't wait to feel free. Then I'll be ready to face my future."
When we hugged I could feel her breasts and I just crumpled LYNN DOUGLAS
CLOSE JLynn and Josie Douglas
JUNIOR Josie as a young boy
NEW Z LOOK Josie Douglas is looking forward to having gender realignment surgery