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Hi, my name is Ella Marques, and I am in the process of transitioning from a male to a female, at the age of sixty. I am an MTF transgender woman, meaning I was born a male but always knew that I was a girl, and now I am finalizing my journey to become my real self.

There are several reasons for me to write this book. One of them is that I would like to share my extraordinary life with the people I know and love, my family and close friends. Another is that I would like to inform those people with whom I do not have much contact about my transition. Finally, to show an example of what transgender people go through to all readers, whether they are transgender or not.

My life is not only extraordinary because I am transgender but because I am an international person who has lived in many countries and had very different experiences within them. Yes, my femininity has been the constant throughout my life, an inseparable part of me from a very young age. I tried to suppress it but never succeeded, and that is why I always ran away from myself, from country to country.

For my transgender community, I would like as well with this book to say that we are all very different but we have very similar stories, that there is a way to survive and to fight for what we are and feel, that there is hope for us, that we are finally being accepted in some parts of the world, but we still must fight to be free. Each one of us must choose our own life, but being real and free is something we owe ourselves. This gender feeling does not go away; it is part of you. As with all actions, the courage to face our biggest fears is the way to freedom and to real challenge. Look for help; there are a lot of great professionals for transgender people – like Dr. Carol Clark, whom I mention within this memoir – who can help you and support you. There are many support groups you can reach out to, locally or through the internet.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Go for it, do not give up.

I would also like to tell non-transgender people that we can and do struggle through many years of suffering before we make a decision to be what we really are. Unless we are accepted from a young age. Why are we transgender? I think only God knows, and this is not the issue, this type of diversity has existed for thousands of years and will continue to exist in the future. But in this time of openness and acceptance we should learn to live and accept our diverse society. I always think about the transgender people that live in areas where they are murdered and persecuted. The other day I had a contact with a young girl in Afghanistan that wanted to commit suicide; she was lonely and afraid to live. Worldwide there still is a lot to do to achieve acceptance and freedom — not only for transgender people but for women, the LGBT community, racial and religious minorities as well, just to name a few.

For those I know and that have no clue that I am transgender, I would like to add that I am not alone. There are many like me. Please respect us and help us to be free. I’m sorry if I did not tell you, but I may have feared your reaction, the risk of losing my job, losing our friendship and your respect. Believe me when I say I needed a lot of real courage to take this step. Please embrace and respect it.

John Gray wrote a book called Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Well, Mr. Gray, I was one of many exceptions. I was born a boy, from Venus. Hence the title of this book.

To the most important people in my life: Karin, Victoria, Raphael, David, Gaby, Monika, my sisters Luisa, Ninita, and their fantastic large families, I would like to thank you for being so tolerant, for sharing your love and acceptance, and for being with me.

Last, I would like to thank my parents, who are both no longer with us, for doing the best for me. I miss you, and I am sure that somehow you would be proud of what I am doing.



Finally Coming Home… to Venus 

It’s Wednesday, early in the morning, and I, Ella, just woke up. My usual first thoughts:

 “What are today’s goals? Finish the exhibition, follow up on mailings from last week, go to the urologist, define next steps…”

I get up, do the usual routine. Go to restroom, step on the scale: weight is 165 pounds. This is stable, but I would like to lose another ten pounds and somehow the scale is going the wrong direction. Well, considering that just one year ago I was 200 pounds, this is not so bad. Shave, brush my teeth, shower, and put on my toiletry creams and liquids. Most importantly, the bust enlargement cream and the hair regrowth liquid.

Then returning to my room, I decide to do some work before I go out, so I put on panties and a bra with a V-neck T-shirt and hot pants. I like the V-neck T-shirts. They remind me just how much my breasts have grown.



I was Born in a Golden Pram

I was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1956, and I have witnessed how society has changed in the last sixty years for many countries and civilizations.

Can you imagine a life without television, or only black and white television? We did have a telephone, one that was made from black plastic, was hardwired, and at home. Communication was very different then: books were kings, people met to communicate, there was no Facebook, no mobile phones. Transgender and LGBT people more generally were jailed in most countries. Transgender people would be jailed for fraud because they were wearing “clothes from the other gender,” and in some places, they would even have their heads shaved as punishment.

I was a baby boomer, according to Dr. Spock, the latest provider of ideas on child education and society. My family was not exempt from this general 1950s fad.



Boarding School in Switzerland    

I felt very unlucky to learn that Le Rosey, the boarding school I would attend in Switzerland, had not had a Portuguese student since it started in 1880. This is one of the world’s most expensive and renowned schools for the children of the rich and famous. It is mainly attended by the kids of aristocrats, movie stars, and millionaires.

My parents drove me to the school from Lisbon, and I was there two days before term started. I was taken to my room, where I spent the first night alone. Though I was fourteen years old, boy, was I scared!



A Carnation Revolution

I felt very unlucky to learn that Le Rosey, the boarding school I would attend in Switzerland, had not had a Portuguese student since it started in 1880. This is one of the world’s most expensive and renowned schools for the children of the rich and famous. It is mainly attended by the kids of aristocrats, movie stars, and millionaires.

My parents drove me to the school from Lisbon, and I was there two days before term started. I was taken to my room, where I spent the first night alone. Though I was fourteen years old, boy, was I scared!



London Calling        

In London, I finally found normalcy, but I was incredibly afraid and so used to extremes that I did not know what it was to be normal anymore. It was bizarre not to be surrounded by people that wanted to show aggression and discontent.

But it was a new country, a new life. In the beginning, I lived with different families as I learned English. The first house I lived in was packed with students like me, and I had a roommate. This was not exactly the place to get caught in girls’ clothes. I had some girlfriends, one of whom was bisexual. She was from Iran and had a connection to the Iranian royal family, so one day we were invited to the Iranian embassy for dinner. Little did I know that some years later, this very building would withstand a siege, one of the first to be filmed live on television. My girlfriend would eventually leave me for a woman, which was a new experience for me.



A New Life in a Known Country    

On July 17, 1981, Monika and I had a wonderful day, our wedding in beautiful Switzerland. Monika looked fantastic in a beautiful light crème dress, with a medieval princess cut. I had on striped trousers, a dark grey frock coat, and a beige gilet. I was so thick then that I cannot fit into these clothes anymore. They look like they are for someone twice my size! We first had a Catholic wedding in a small church, then a fantastic day in a boat on Lake Zürich, and finally a buffet dinner in Rapperswil Castle with a fantastic view of the lake.

Many people attended our wedding, including friends and family from Switzerland, Portugal, and England. It was a lovely day. Later in the evening, I phoned the hotel we were supposed to go to for our first night, only to find out that they were double-booked and had no room, so we slept in Monika’s very small bed in her childhood bedroom. We then spent our honeymoon in Venice and Rome. There were some issues with the hotels there, too, but we addressed them and enjoyed it a lot.



My First Attempt to Become Myself         

When I was living alone in my apartment, things changed. I finally had time to be myself. The biggest changes: I lost a lot of weight and went shopping for girls’ clothes. I had a great time and started to perfect myself at home.

I was an important manager of a company nearby, working for the owners of the apartment where I lived. Some of my neighbors worked on my team.

One day I was fully made up and dressed up when one of the neighbors knocked on my door. My heart was racing, I did not know what to do. I tried to find out who it was by peering through the curtains, and I managed to see that it was John, one of the engineers on my team. I did not answer and tried to be very quiet, hoping he would go away. He did not; as a matter of fact, we both lived on the ground floor, and he tried to look through the French windows to see if I was at home. I was so scared and felt guilty. 



A new country, a new life   

I invited Karin to spend a weekend in Paris with me. We had a great time going to fantastic restaurants, meeting nice people, and looking at some of the world’s most adored art and historical buildings. Then during this wonderful weekend, I told Karin that I was getting a job in France and that I would love it if she came with me. To my greatest happiness, she said yes, and we started a totally new phase of our partnership.

Until we got settled, I rented a very small apartment on the outskirts of Paris. Karin would come every weekend, and we started to look for a house to start our new life. It was a very intense but unforgettable time. We were high on each other’s love.



Travel and sailing    

I would like to make a short stop here to write about two of my favorite things, travel and sailing.

When I was small, I was quite fascinated by Portuguese colonial history and the discoveries our explorers made. I read quite a lot about sailing and traveling then. I really admired historical figures like Marco Polo; they were my idols.

As you know, I spent time in a boarding school in Switzerland, and at the age of nineteen, after three years back in Portugal, I left my birth country for England and never lived there again.

Adventure and discovering different cultures have always been things I thrive on. When I was living in England, I was fascinated by sailing boats and even thought of building my own. It was a dream that I only partly accomplished. Although I do not have my own sailing boat yet, I certainly have been sailing all over the world.



Back to the Alps       

Well, probably not exactly on top of the Alps, but surely back to Switzerland, in Basel.

Basel is a very nice town, bordering both France and Germany. There is even a point where all three countries meet. We rented an apartment in a neighborhood there called Gundeli. It was not necessarily the best part of town, but it was very convenient for my new job at VR. Karin was not so pleased because it wasn’t close to the French kindergarten where Victoria was attending school, but it was only a provisory place; even the furniture that we brought from France was in a depot. 

As I returned to Switzerland, I started to explore my womanhood again, and I joined a transgender club in Basel. I was going out again as a girl.



Time to Change Continents

The first thing we looked for in the U.S. was a school for Victoria. It had to be international, in a place where she had choices for her future. In the beginning, we looked in Palm Beach, and in nearby Boca Raton, we found a school with an International Baccalaureate program, where Victoria could start just after summer holidays.

Karin, Victoria, and I came to visit the school, and we were quite impressed. Somehow it reminded me of my days at Le Rosey.

I negotiated my contract as well as I could, and we moved to Florida. The first three months we lived in a hotel. During this time Karin looked for a home while I traveled for work. We bought a house not far away from the beach in Boca. This is probably one of the most fantastic places I know in the world. It is well taken care of, and even if it is a very new town, it is well-organized and quite beautiful. The only drawback is the city paperwork to get any permit, but this is understandable.




As a transgender woman, I have been blessed all my life. Not because I embraced this cause early. Like many of us, I was one of the victims of a society that does not know how to cope with trans people. I was blessed because I have had a great life, a great family, and I managed to create a life that is positive and constructive.

On the other hand, being closet transgender most of the time led to a life of running alone from place to place and hiding my feelings, and I must say I ran from myself for most of my life. I suffered a lot because I was afraid of my feelings, because I was made to feel guilty from an early age, and this followed me all my life.


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