An 81-year-old transgender woman has become the oldest person in the UK to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

Ruth Rose, a former RAF navigator who has three children with her ex-wife, began transitioning to female four years ago, aged 77.

As well as undergoing hormone treatment, in July she went under the knife and became the oldest person in the UK to have gender surgery.

Ms Rose  told the Sunday People: “I thought my life as a woman would never be fully fulfilled at my age. I feel so much happier now.

“Not a day had gone by since I was nine when I didn’t think I was in the wrong body. I always felt I was a woman.

“It’s as if the last vestige of sham has been taken away. It was much more than getting rid of some obnoxious ­unwanted parts. I felt euphoric.”

She added: “I have never been abused by anybody about this and I wouldn’t expect to be. We are not freaks to be on show and it is so nice to be part of a community in the gender that I feel is right.

“Life is very nice to me at the moment. I stay fit and healthy. I swim in the sea every day of the year and go sailing.

“The fact that I am a different gender to the one I was born is not an issue.”