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Friday, 27 November 2009

I fell for the woman of my dreams... and she turned out to be a he

Source: The Sun

By David Lowe

When Ian Young sat down next to a beautiful woman in a packed cafe in Kuala Lumpur, he had no idea they would one day be married.

Nor did he know that his pretty companion was a man.

In just three years, Ian has gone from being a straight lad from Derby - who was with his previous girlfriend for eight years - to being in a full-time same-sex relationship.

Ian married 36-year-old Fatine, who is a pre-op transsexual, in a British civil partnership ceremony in May.

But now Fatine faces deportation back to Malaysia, where homosexuality is ILLEGAL.

Ian, 30, who owns his own property maintenance company, says: "I know it is hard for people to understand but I love Fatine. I feel lucky to have met such a caring, wonderful person.

"It doesn't matter to me that she is a transsexual - it's the person she is inside that I care about and love.

"I can't contemplate the idea of us not being together. I look at her and see a beautiful woman."

Ian met Fatine in a Starbucks cafe in the Malaysian capital's famous Petronas Towers in August 2006. He was working as a security officer in the country at the time.

He says: "I asked if I could nick the seat next to her. When she looked up and said, 'Yes' I was overwhelmed by her striking eyes and exotic features.

"We started talking and I was immediately impressed by how good her English was. When she got up to leave I asked for her number.

"That's when she said she might not be what I was looking for and that she was actually a transsexual. I just said, 'Oh' and blushed with embarrassment. But for some reason I wasn't put off.

"I'd never met a transsexual before and my instinct was that I liked Fatine. Even if it was just as friends, I wanted to meet her again."

Two days later Ian and Fatine, who was born Mohammed Fazdil Bin Min Bahari, met at a bar - and kissed at the end of the night.

Ian says: "It just felt right. My first impression in the coffee shop was that Fatine was a woman.

"If she happened to have male sex organs then that was some sort of birth defect. I never thought of her as a man."

The couple met twice more and agreed the feelings they had were more than just friendship.

Ian says: "I was planning to go back to the UK but Fatine was such a warm, gentle person she drew me in.

"I was treated like a meal ticket by other Malaysian girls. But Fatine was different - a successful make-up artist and independent woman."

But the fledgling relationship was not without its problems.

Ian says: "Being a straight man I did have a few concerns about the way I was feeling.

"I wondered if it meant I was gay and I was scared what had happened wasn't right, but I couldn't ignore how I felt."

Fatine, who has taken female hormones since the age of 17, does not want gender reassignment surgery because of the risks involved and because she is happy with her body as it is.

She was also nervous about starting a relationship in a country where transsexuals are often sacked or arrested.

Ian says: "She was disowned by her mother and had encountered a lot of prejudice.

"I began to understand that Fatine and her friends were not a freak show but ordinary people like you or me who just happened to have been born into the wrong body."

When Ian's contract finished five months later he returned to Derby, but he and Fatine realised they both felt strongly about each other. Ian arranged to return to Kuala Lumpur to work, but not before telling all to his mum Patricia.

He recalls: "Mum was fantastic. Having her support was a huge weight off my shoulders."

On his second visit, in October 2007, Ian and Fatine felt ready for a physical relationship.

Ian says: "I was scared about what would happen if sex didn't work. I needn't have worried and it only helped bring us closer. If you love someone, you accept their body no matter how it is."

In December 2008 Ian arranged for Fatine to travel to the UK on a visitor's visa. However, a holiday soon became a long-term stay.

Ian says: "The realisation we could walk down the street together and be happy made it hard to contemplate ever going back to Malaysia.

"I started feeling incredibly proud to have Fatine on my arm."

A month into Fatine's visit Ian proposed and they applied to the Home Office for a Certificate of Approval to Marry. This allowed them to proceed with a civil partnership, which they hoped would support Fatine in getting a permanent visa.

Ian says of the ceremony: "My friends and family turned out to Derby Register Office and their presence was a huge boost.

"Everyone was so supportive. Mum said, 'I've got a son and a daughter now'. For Fatine it was strange to be surrounded by people who were so accepting of her and our relationship.

"Fatine wore a beautiful red silk dress and looked utterly stunning."

Ian has been pleasantly surprised by people's acceptance. He says: "There is always a moment of shock on their face when they find out Fatine isn't a woman. Seconds later they accept it, then ask if I'm gay. But, as strange as it sounds, I'd never say I fancy men."

Despite their dedication to each other, the couple's plans to stay in the UK are now in turmoil after Fatine's Leave To Remain Visa was refused in September on the grounds of an incorrect passport photo.

Their second application was rejected because it was received after Fatine's visitor's visa expired. She has now been told to return to Malaysia.

Ian says: "I simply don't accept the reasons we have been given for each refusal of the application.

"Our local MP has even got in touch with the Home Office but they won't budge. They say Fatine has to return to Malaysia, which is something we wouldn't be able to do as a couple.

"Over there we would face imprisonment just for living together.

"We want to do simple things like have a mortgage. We feel desperate, our options are quickly running out.

"Fatine can reapply from Malaysia but who knows how long that would take, or if it would even be accepted.

"We might be different from your average couple but we love each other - and being forced apart is our worst nightmare."

Head of Immigration for the UK Border Agency, Matthew Coats, said: "This applicant entered the UK as a visitor. The rules are clear that a visitor must leave the UK within six months but may reapply for a new visa from their country of origin."

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