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The transgender teens who fell in love

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They look like any other teen couple, but two years ago he was a girl called Emerald and she was a boy called Luke.

After spending their childhoods struggling with their identities, they started attending a transgender support group in Tulsa, Oaklahoma, and fell in love.

Arin Andrews, 17, and Katie Hill, 19, have both had surgery so their physical appearance matches the gender they’ve always wanted to be.

Arin had his breasts removed last month. He told The Sun: “I hated my breasts, I always felt like they didn’t belong. Now I finally feel comfortable in my own body.

“Now when I’m out in a public pool or lifting weights, no one raises an eyebrow. They just think I’m a guy “I can wear a tank top, which I couldn’t before, and I can go swimming shirtless. I can just be a regular guy.”

In the future, Arin might consider having genital surgery, but it can be complicated.

Katie’s had surgery last year to transform her male genitalia into female, via a procedure known as vaginoplasty, which involves removing the testicles and inverting and reconstructing the penile tissue into a vagina. An anonymous donor heard her story and paid her medical bills, which totalled nearly $40,000.

“The pain was almost unbearable,” she says of the first week after the operation. 

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It hasn’t been an easy process socially either. Both their peers and parents have battled to come terms with their new identities.

Arin a child beauty pageant princess who grew up attending private Christian schools, but told her mother Denise (below) on the way to a dance recital one day: “Mom, do you know what it means to be transgender? I think that’s what I am.”

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He adds:  “My family have really surprised me with how supportive they have been throughout the surgery. I’m so lucky to have them and Katie to rely on.”

His peers haven’t been quite so supportive. He was forced to change schools when he revealed he was transgender and admits: “I lost one of my best friends through the transition.”

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Meanwhile, Katie was depressed for many years before asking her mother for help to become a girl around her 15th birthday.

“Knowing what Katie went through for eight-plus years — there’s nothing worse than watching your child suffer,” Hill’s mom, Jazzlyn, told Tulsa World. “It’s still my baby – male or female, she’s still my child. And I don’t have to kneel at her grave.”

Katie’s father, Randy, found the situation far more difficult to comprehend. He spent two years mourning the loss of his son. But Jazzlyn explains, he finally realised that “it’s still this amazing, incredible kid we had.”

“It’s still hard, but we’re trying,” Katie says. “He’s finally starting to see where I am coming from.”

Arin and Katie feel incredibly fortunate to have found each other and are filled with hope for their future. They are inseparable, constantly in each other’s arms.

“Being transgender myself, I understand Arin better than anybody else — how good he feels and how complete he feels,”says Katie.

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