Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan is now a stunning transgender model
An infantry soldier who served in the army for 30 years has begun an incredible new life as a transgender woman and model.
Andrea ‘Andi’ Halliley, 52, felt female ever since she was little but joined the military in 1985 in a bid to prove she was masculine. At the time, LGB people were banned from serving in the armed forces and coming out simply wasn’t an option.
Andi eventually rose to the rank of colour sergeant and toured in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq while fighting her “own secret war” with her identity.
“The military is very macho, especially in the infantry. I think I was trying to prove I was macho as well, but it was very difficult living a secret life in such an overtly male environment,” she said in an interview with the Metro.
“It was difficult living with your own secret war inside your head.”
For years Andi felt unable to open up to anyone, not even her wife and three children. She tried to suppress her feelings by wearing combats in the day, but would sneak to her room at night to change into women’s clothes.
When she finally came out to her now ex-wife in 2015 after retiring from the army, she told her she was a ‘cross dresser‘, as she’d never heard of the term ‘transgender’ before.
“My ex-wife did some research and told me about transgender people, and it was like a lightbulb moment, we both knew that’s what I really was,” she said.
Unfortunately, Andi’s coming out heralded the end of her marriage, but they split on “amicable terms”. Her three children have all been “brilliant” throughout her transition – and despite her concerns about the infantry being a “macho” environment, she was taken aback to find that her former colleagues were supportive too.
“Regardless of their reaction, I wasn’t going to hide who I am anymore, but it was nice to have that support and acceptance,” she said.
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Now free to explore her femininity, Andi’s modelling career began at an alternative burlesque show where someone suggested she audition for The Alternative Model of the Year Contest.
She entered the competition for the first time in 2017 and has made it to the catwalk final of the contest for the past three years in a row.
She quickly fell in love with the modelling world and after taking part in multiple photoshoots, Andi was signed by the agency Rogue Model Management.
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“It is amazing to think how much my life has changed since leaving the army and embracing being transgender,” she said.
“Five years ago, I was wearing combats every day, pretending to be this big macho man all day before secretly hiding in my room wearing girly clothes in fear.
“Now, I’m strutting down runways in feminine clothes and posing for cameras as a proud transgender woman. I’m just so happy I finally decided to come out and show people the real me, and I’ll never hide that side of me ever again.”