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This transgender dancer is chasing her ballerina dream

Nick Duffy April 17, 2017

A transgender amateur ballet dancer, aged 35, is making waves after passing her Royal Academy of Dance exam.

Sophie Rebecca, 35, worked as a racing driver for many years – but quit the sport as she transitioned to female, deciding to pursue her secret dream of becoming a ballerina.

Speaking to the BBC, she said: “I was trying my best to be manly, but a lot of it was just a front. It was trying to run from who I was.”

Sophie was permitted to take ‘female-only’ ballet class, after the academy abandoned rules that barred trans women from taking part in women’s ballet classes in 2013.

And now, two-and-a-half years later, she has become the first trans ballerina to achieve her ‘intermediate foundation’ qualification, passing with a merit.

She explained: “I’m not transgender because I dance and I don’t dance because I’m transgender.

“I dance because I’m a dancer. It just happens to be that I’m transgender.

“It’s a passion, it’s the way it makes me feel and its perfect. It’s me.”

The broadcaster was filming as Sophie got her exam results, breaking down in tears as she found out she passed with a merit.

She added: “Being able to to walk into that studio and be judged on nothing more than my ability to dance means the world to me.”

Speaking to the BBC’s Stephen Nolan she added: “I will never be a professional – it’s not to do with being trans, it’s to do with coming to it very late in life. I’ve never performed on stage and I’m unlikely to ever perform on stage. If that ever happens, I think I’d be more comfortable referring to myself as a ballerina.”

Her ballet tutor, Lynne Reucroft-Croome, added that Sophie will be at a disadvantage as she dances through transition, as she begins hormone treatment.

She said: “It’s going to change everything. The muscle strength will go.

“We’re going to lose strength in adage — the slower, more controlled movements when the leg is lifted off the floor. We’re expecting it to diminish and we’ll have to build back to it again.”

She added that Sophie’s transition had not been an issue in the dance classes, however.

Ms Reucroft-Croome said: “I thought it was unusual because it was a situation that I’d never come across before, but what is strange [about it]? I’m not judgemental about anybody.”

Related: These guys re-imagined ballroom dancing to tackle gender barriers

More: art, ballerina, ballet, Dance, Transgender

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