By Charlotte Nisbet
This transgender ballet dancer has ditched rally racing and is now showing off her incredible new moves.
Sophie Rebecca, 37, from Leeds, has passed her exams at the Royal Ballet Academy and is the first transgender woman to do so.
The incredibly proud IT technician only began transitioning into a female two years ago and has since taken the dancing world by storm.
Sophie now trains four times per week and has an incredible collection of handmade tutus and leotards.
The dancer who was born a boy called James, didn’t kick-start her transformation until the age of 35.
She is hoping to inspire other people to chase their dreams no matter their age.
Sophie said: “Before transitioning into a woman there are photos of me rally racing, shooting and looking like a typical bloke.
“But I was far from it, I knew from a young age that I was trapped in the wrong body.
“Since starting ballet and taking female hormones my life has changed so much, I finally feel happy in my own skin.
“Knowing I wouldn’t develop any further into a man was amazing, I’ve never been a man, I was just born one.
“I was so nervous for my exam which was examined at my dance school by a Royal Academy of Dance examiner.
“I was convinced I’d failed but to find out I’d passed was the best feeling in the world.
“I attend three group sessions per week and one personal ballet class each week.
“I’ll continue to take ballet exams but at the moment I’m just enjoying my training.
“I didn’t start my transition until I was 35 but it was the best decision of my life.
“My family and friends have been incredibly supportive and I’ve continued with my IT job as normal.”
Sophie tried to learn to ballet dance while still living as a male but no one would teach her the female version while she was still a man.
She added: “I wanted to dance like the woman I was but while being James it wasn’t possible.
“I cried when received my ‘intermediate foundation’ qualification and passed with a merit.
“It was such a huge achievement, especially when so many people didn’t ever think it was possible.
“I didn’t have a great experience with the NHS and was lucky enough to afford private care.
“Due to the hormones in my body my strength and stamina for ballet isn’t as good as it once was but I’m improving each week.
“I work from home and every time I get slightly stressed, I practice and let off some steam.”
Sophie recalls how she only had female friends at school and struggled to understand why she was born a boy.
She added: “I’ve always felt far more comfortable about being in the company of women.
“There has been times before my transition that men have made sexist remarks and I’ve been offended.
“I can relate to women as I am one and I’ll continue to take hormones to become as feminine as possible.”
Sophie now feels like she’s going through puberty for the second time.
She added: “It’s a strange feeling but as I now have female hormones, I have noticed my body changing shape and feel different in so many ways.
“The female role in ballet is so feminine and I’m able to fully embrace myself as the person I have always been.
“I wish I wasn’t over 6ft but my long limbs do work well with certain ballet moves.
“Often transgender people are portrayed negatively but I am a normal person who is fulfilling their passion.
“If anyone reading my story can gain strength to live out their dreams then it’s worthwhile.”