A couple is said to be walking down the aisle together for the second time – this time as “bride and groom” after the groom reveals that she is transgender.
Rayna and Jae Harvey tied the knot in 2018 while Rayna was named Jake, but Rayna came out transgender during their honeymoon at Center Parcs in Longleat, Wiltshire.
The 33-year-old graphic designer claims she has “suppressed” her feelings of being feminine since she was 11 and found the experience of saying both “liberating” and “relieving” to Jae to finally say it.
The makeup lover has since spent £ 45,000 on orchiectomy, breast augmentation, and face surgery that she claims is “worth every penny” and is now confidently living as her true self.
The couple are determined to tie the knot again, however, but this time Rayna is able to “be the real woman” as Jae says Rayna wasn’t at their first wedding – since Jake was there then.
Jae, 30, said she was “really proud” of her partner and they are now planning her “re-weddings” at the Quantocks next September so Rayna can have the “all the frills” big day she has always dreamed of . .
Jae, who lives near Bridgwater, Somerset, said, “We are planning to ‘remarry’ because her family didn’t make it to Texas and now that she has moved, that’s another big reason for us to do it to do all over again.
“When we think back to our first wedding, there’s a bit of a breakup as I feel, ‘Well, Ray wasn’t there?’ And I want her in my wedding.
“What I want more than anything is her family to see her walk down the altar and have her day – I have to have mine with all my bells and whistles, so now it’s her turn.
“We’re both going to wear beautiful black dresses on an all black and white theme with white, pink and red roses, which at least for me symbolize the death of old Ray and the rebirth of new Ray.”
Rayna added, “It’s for me to be the real me – our first wedding was a great day and one of the happiest of my life.”
After meeting online on MySpace in 2007, Jae and Rayna reunited on MSN in 2010, and a few months later Rayna flew to Dallas, Texas for a fortnight to meet for the first time.
The couple lost touch for several years, but their love was rekindled in October 2017 when Jae first flew to the UK and Rayna dropped to one knee at Bristol Airport before boarding her flight home.
They finally got married in March 2018 in Dallas, Texas with an intimate wedding of 30 guests, and two months later they visited Center Parcs for their honeymoon.
During this trip, Rayna expressed her true identity to her wife. It was also the first time she put on a dress and said it was a real “lightbulb moment” when make-up artist Jae cast a spell on her.
Rayna said, “It was liberating. Something that I had kept for so long and when it actually happened it was more of a relief – the overwhelming feeling was ‘thank God for that’.
“It must have been a shock to her at first, but she turned everything upside down to make me feel good. I am like the same person, but in a different body.”
Jae added, “We had a long conversation going over what she was feeling and there were tears and laughter – it made our communication so much stronger.
“She had shoulder-length hair as a man and straightened it and raised her eyebrows and didn’t think much about it back then.
“But when we started talking about their gender identity, I thought ‘Oh’. It was one of those lightbulb moments. So in retrospect it all made sense, but at the time I had no idea.
“When we opened up communication and she realized it was safe with me, I’m not going to judge her or get angry and just want to understand so that I can help, it all clicked and made sense at one point, I definitely didn’t see it .
“When she originally came to me, she wasn’t sure what she was thinking and feeling.
“We tried androgyny and cross-dressing, but none of them was enough or a full-time woman and she wanted it.
“The first time we went out with her, when she presented herself as a woman and someone spoke to us in a restaurant as ‘ladies’, her face lit up – I knew at that very moment that she was trans.”
In December of this year, the 33-year-old came out on Facebook as transgender and has since privately undergone aorchiectomy, breast augmentation and feminizing facial surgery.
Rayna says she received “absolutely incredible support” from everyone, including her 93-year-old Nan, who is now buying her party tickets for a granddaughter.
Rayna said, “The last person I was with was very black and white in everything. It is not right for them to want to identify with the opposite sex and I was quite ashamed of who I was .
“There were periods of self-loathing and trying to figure out what was going on in my head, and Jae helped me put the pieces together.
“It was only since I got together with Jae and got married that she gave me a safe environment to express myself.
“She’s just a wonderful person and a very kind soul who passes it on to everyone she knows – it’s nice to have someone who is instantly sensitive to your feelings.”
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Rayna said life is “easy” now as she confidently lives as the woman she really is – and Jae, the hairdresser and make-up artist, provided her with all the tools she needed.
Rayna said, “It was absolutely worth every penny and I don’t regret a second of the money I’ve spent – I don’t think happiness and wellbeing can be quantified.
“Because of my confidence and my appreciation, I’ve been given a lot more opportunities – I’m much happier meeting people and talking to strangers because I know they are seeing what I want to show them now.
“Without Jae, I would absolutely not have been where I am today – she was instrumental in my transition.
Jae added, “I’m just really proud – it’s just amazing to be able to do everything with her.
“Rae is undeniably her own person – I have no doubts that there is no other Ray out there. It is worth just watching her grow since her transition and that my person is happy, well and the person they want to be. “