A transgender former councillor has taken her first steps back into politics two years after shaking off her old life as a man.
And Rianna Humble – formerly Robert Hull – has praised the people of Crawley for their tolerance and understanding.
The former West Green councillor introduced the town to Rianna in August 2010 at the age of 54, having known since the age of seven that she was “in the wrong body”.
Speaking of people’s reaction to the change, she said: “The vast majority of people were very supportive, although there were a few catcalls in the street from people who didn’t know any better.
“A near neighbour came up to me shortly after the stories in the local press and told me that, although the news had come as a bit of a shock, he wanted to express his support and he asked me to let him know if anybody was giving me grief so he could have a word with them.”
Rianna is on medication to supplement her oestrogen levels and suppress the production of testosterone and takes part in regular voice therapy sessions.
But, like many women her age, she is caught up in a battle to lose weight. She needs to drop several dress sizes before she can safely undergo gender confirmation surgery to become a whole woman.
As for her return to politics, since the spring, she has joined a campaign group called LGBT Labour, acting as Trans Officer and working for equal human rights for transgender people.
She said: “At the AGM of West Sussex Labour Party, I was asked to become the vice-chair (I had already proposed the person who took over from me as chair two years ago to retain that role).
“Then this summer, I was asked to become chair of the Sussex Co-operative Party and also to represent Sussex at our annual conference.
“Two great honours and I hope that I do justice to the confidence that has been placed in me.”
Her political career is not the only part of Rianna’s life which has taken a boost.
She has also noticed a significant improvement in her general health, which she puts down to being free to express her inner self.
She added: “I definitely have no regrets about living now as the person I should always have been; regrets about not doing it sooner don’t serve any useful purpose.”