Make up artist Kerri is know for her military precision – and it’s thanks to the years she spent serving in the British Army as a man.
 
But the former soldier has no regrets about being born into the wrong body because she’s proud at having served her country and says it made her the woman she is today.
 
Now after gender reassignment surgery gave her the confidence to persue her dream of qualifying as a make up artist she says there has never been a better time for trans people.
 
She said the success of films like The Danish Girl is helping to show what it really means to be trans and hearing Eddie Redymayne had been nominated for an Oscar inspired her to speak out about her own transition from male to female.
 
Kerri, 47, from Romford, Essex, said : ‘ Hearing Redmayne was nominated for his portrayal of the first ever sex change patient felt like such a victory, not just for him but for the whole trans community.
 
‘We have fought so long for acceptance and understanding and the success of this film shows how far we have come. It’s also a great explanation of what it’s like to be born into the wrong body.’
 
According to Kerri celebrities like Kellie Maloney and Caitlyn Jenner are also helping to show the world what it means to be transgender.
 
Kerri said: ‘ It feels like such a positive time. Eastenders has recruited a trans actor and we have a trans captain in the Army.’
 
It’s something Kerri could not have imagined when she was serving with the Royal Green Jackets as a Rifelman.
 
She served in Northern Ireland, Germany, Canada, The Falklands and Gibraltar, but admits she may never have joined if she had been born a woman.
 
In fact she joined up in 1984 in a desperate bid to be the man everyone expected her to be.
 
She explains: ‘From the age of seven I gravitated towards women’s clothes but I didn’t know why.
 
‘At school I wished I could wear a PE skirt like the girls but with no access to internet or people in the media to identify with I just had to go with my instincts.’
 
Aged eight she started sneaking into her mum’s room to try on clothes, she said it made her feel liberated but lonely at the same time.
 
She said: ‘ I wondered if I was the only person in the world who felt this way. I tried so much to act like the other boys but I never felt one of them.’
 
Kerri had her first kiss and lost her virginity to a girl. Then aged 16 she signed up to join the Army. She said: ‘ I wanted to be the Kevin that everyone expected me to be.
 
‘To a certain extent it worked. I put my past down to childhood innocence and finally became one of the lads.
 
‘I loved the camaraderie and was very proud to be serving my country.’
 
But after eight years she left and began working as a lorry driver. Back in civilian life the old feelings returned and she began wearing female clothes in secret again.
 
Then in 1995 she met and fell in love with a woman and managed to suppress the feelings in a bid to have a ‘normal life’ and in 1998 they married.
 
But in 2000 she began to dress as a woman in secret in the loft. She said: ‘My wife never went up there. I didn’t want to risk the relationship which is why I kept it a secret
 
‘I hoped it would be enough to satisfy my urges and allow me to continue with my ‘normal life.’
 
But by 2003 the feelings were stronger than ever and she decided to tell her wife the truth.
 
Kerri said: ‘I guess I hoped she might try and understand and accept it as part of our lives, but she refused to discuss it, burying her head in the sand.’
 
But Kerri couldn’t go on living a lie and in 2009, after having therapy, she said the couple separated.  Kerri said: ‘Now I was single it was a chance to finally be honest about who I was.’
 
Kerri went out in public for the first time as a female and also realised she was attracted to men.
 
She said: ‘ That took some getting my head around. But made sense now I was spending more time as a female.’
 
But because she weighed 19 stone and was a size 22 she didn’t feel confident when she went out in public as a woman.
 
So in January 2010 she joined her local Slimming World as Kevin and lost six and a half stone in ten months.
 
She was a size 12 when she finally looked in the mirror I felt proud of my reflection.
 
Walking through Romford market one Saturday morning, nobody looked twice.
 
She recalls:  I felt great I said it myself: ‘This is it, this is who I am.’
 
‘I knew then that I had to make the transition full time and my bosses at the council offices where I worked in IT were supportive. In Oct 2010 I took leave and returned to work as Kerri.
 
‘My colleagues were great, expect one who made an issue about me using the women’s toilets but I told her I’d much rather use the men’s because they were so much cleaner.’
 
Kerri said following her decision to live full time as a woman every day her life got easier and more enjoyable.
 
She said: ‘People treated me as a female. And underneath I was female and always had been. But I knew I’d never really feel complete unless I underwent gender reassignment surgery.’
 
So it seemed ironic to her that on 11 September 2014 she was on her way to hospital for the NHS funded surgery.
 
She explains: ‘Exactly 30 years earlier to the day I had joined the Army. In many ways it seemed poles apart, but at the same time, both required courage, bravery and determination.’
 
As they wheeled her into theatre she said she didn’t feel nervous because she had never felt more sure about anything in her life.
 
She said: ‘ I was just anxious that the surgery would go well.’
 
‘When I came round and groggily remembered where she was and what she had done she remembers thinking: ‘ I’m a woman at last… yippee.’
 
Two days later the surgeon came round and removed the bandages for the first time.
 
She said: ‘I felt absolutely amazing. I view my condition as  a birth defect, that I was born with an outside that didn’t match the inside and surgery simply put that right.’
 
But her transformation wasn’t quite complete.  Kerri’s weight fluctuation had taken a toll on her bust so last year she decided to have a breast  enlargement with Transform.
 
She said: ‘My surgeon at Transform was lovely, understanding and sympathetic and I felt I was in good hands.’
 
Kerri said her new £4,000 38DD breasts felt like the final part of the puzzle.
 
She explains: ‘Finally I felt I looked good on the outside and I had the confidence to persue my ambition to work as a make up artist. I’m now fully qualified and training in theatrical make up too.’
 
Since her transition she also found a boyfriend. She said: ‘I have been honest with him about who I am but he didn’t care. It was me as a person he fell in love with.
 
‘I was doing the make up at a fashion show recently and was lucky enough to meet Kellie Maloney who I really admire.
 
‘Transitioning in the spotlight, especially having worked in such a male dominated environment took real guts.
 
‘It’s not been an easy road for me, but I don’t regret a thing. Being born as Kevin and serving in the Army made me the woman I am today.’
 
Kerri is now planning to write a book about her life to help inspire others and says her goal is to continue to make our society as cohesive as possible.  
 
She said: ‘ I’m always on twitter giving advice and I hope that sharing my story might make it easier for another transgender person.
 
‘The success of the films and the celebrity role models are great, but it’s still hard.’
 
For more information about surgery Transform visit www.transforminglives.co.uk <http://www.transforminglives.co.uk/>