An article published in the Evening Express by Peter Davidson.
Living life openly as a transgender woman has been a liberating experience for Justine Smithies.
After coming out as transgender in 2007, Justine, who lives in Cruden Bay, had initial concerns about how she may be treated by others.
The 43-year-old, who works as a marine electronics engineer for Woodsons of Aberdeen, said it was a difficult decision and one she did not take lightly.
Justine said: “Since coming out everyone has been so understanding and to be honest I was quite surprised myself.
“Coming out can be a very difficult thing for anyone, especially for your friends and family.
“But since coming out my life has been so much better and as a result I have made much more friends.
“Taking hormone tablets since 2007 has seen my physical strength go right down and things I used to be able to lift are more difficult to lift now.
“The people I work with understand and help me out whenever I need help.”
Justine added that she knows other transgender people may not have had the same support, and she has been speaking to Brooke Olsen who lives in Peterhead to help her.
Justine said: “I understand it can be difficult for some people and they might not be as fortunate as me to have the understanding that I have had.”
Born in Nuneaton, Justine moved up to Cruden Bay in 1990 with her wife Julie, 41, and had three children.
Justine, a gender equality campaigner, has raised thousands of pounds for gender and sexuality equality charity Stonewall Scotland.
Each year, Justine has to have a blood test as a result of her hormone treatment.
Justine has also undergone seven hours of facial surgery at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary which included having her trachea shaved and an operation to alter her chin in January 2013.
In May 2013 Justine had gender reassignment surgery in Brighton.
And then in November 2014, surgeons performed a breast augmentation at BMI Fernbrae Hospital in Dundee.