Former obese teen: “My Jordan obsession helped me become a woman”

Chelsea Attonley reveals how Jordan inspired her to lose weight and have a sex-swap.


by Ellie Henman |
Published on

As a young boy Matthew Attonley felt desperately unhappy with his gender and sought comfort in food.

By 16 he weighed a staggering 26st but joined a gym and lost 10st, hoping a more muscular frame would stop him feeling confused.

But his new manly image made him miserable, so when he saw pictures of glamour model Jordan he decided to style himself on her.

Chelsea says: "Jordan made me realise I wanted to be a woman and I wanted to look just like her – she was beautiful and confident."

For a year, Matthew copied Jordan’s style wearing a blonde wig, mini skirts and stilettos. But when doctors refused to give him a sex change he became depressed and ballooned to 26st once more.

But a chance meeting with his idol in a nightclub encouraged him to pursue his dream and in 2008 he had a boob job followed by full gender reassignment.

Chelsea's idol is Jordan - known as Katie Price
Chelsea's idol is Jordan - known as Katie Price

Now Chelsea, who weighs 16st and is a size 16, is happier than ever and credits Jordan for her amazing transformation.

Single Chelsea, who lives in London, says: “I always knew I wasn’t normal and eating helped me block everything out. I was heartbroken when a doctor refused me a sex change. But when I met Jordan she said I looked great dressed as a woman. She inspired me to push for a sex change – and I’ve never been happier.”

Matthew was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, and lived at home with his school supervisor mum, Sandra and gardener dad, John.

Chelsea recalls: “Even at nursery I'd dress up in ladies' hats and gloves. It felt natural and right [please leave in]. Sometimes I'd sneak into my mum's room and try on her lipstick, heels and clothes. When I went to secondary school I started fancying boys but I knew I wasn't gay – I wanted to be the girl in a straight relationship. But I'd never heard of gender dysphoria.”

Aged 13, Matthew, who used to change into a girls' pink jacket and handbag when he got to school, started binging on junk food to cope with his anxieties.

“Boys at school called me 'fatty Matty' and 'gay boy' for wearing girl's stuff to school. I laughed the insults off, but deep down they hurt,” explains Chelsea.

“I was very confused and eating made me feel better. I’d get through three sausage rolls and three slices of cake and four Mars bars every day - on top of three big meals. I weighed 26st at 16 and had a 54inch waist.”

“Mum was worried about my size but couldn’t control me,” recalls Chelsea, whose parents are no longer alive.

Chelsea - here aged six - dressed as a woman from a young age

Aged 17, Matthew decided to try and conform in a bid to make himself happy and started weight training to look masculine.

“I even began a sexual relationship with another boy. But I didn't enjoy it at all. It didn't feel right and it ended after two months,” explains Chelsea, who hasn't had another relationship since.

By 20, Matthew had lost 10st – but he was still desperately unhappy.

“I hated my body. My pecs were a constant reminder of the boobs I didn't have. I used to squeeze them together in front of the mirror to make a cleavage and looking at my genitals made me feel sick,” recalls Chelsea.

Aged 21, Matthew became obsessed with Jordan and vowed to model himself on the reality star.

“I wanted to be just like Jordan. I cut out pictures of her, so I could copy her style,” says Chelsea.

Matthew’s GP referred him to a gender clinic and he decided to confide in his mum.

Chelsea says: “I just blurted out 'Mum, I'm going to become a woman'. She switched Emmerdale off and said 'About time!' before giving me a big hug. She said she'd always suspected I was transgender. It was great to have her support.”

Chelsea was born Matthew, pictured here aged 15

Matthew also confided in his brothers – his father had already passed away.

"They were worried about me getting abuse and at first they felt like they'd lost a brother. But now they have said they feel like they've gained a sister," Chelsea says.

In 2005 Matthew, then 21, went to see a gender specialist.

Devastatingly, the specialist told 5ft 11" Matthew he’d never be a woman.

“I’d dressed up in a mini skirt, heels and blonde wig and put loads of eye shadow on – I was copying Katie,” recalls Chelsea. “But he said I was too over the top and needed to tone it down to be a real lady. He said I wouldn't get funding for hormones or surgery – he wasn't taking me seriously. I felt humiliated.”

Matthew found the courage to continue dressing as a woman full time, but comfort ate again.

“I was eating ten cheese toasties and three roast dinners a day – it felt like food was all I had,” recalls Chelsea. “Within a year I was back up to 26st.”

Then, in 2007, Matthew bumped into Jordan at a nightclub.

Chelsea, as Matthew, aged 20, after she lost 10 stone

“I met her back stage and she gave me a real boost. I was wearing a pink dress, high heels, blonde hair extensions and blow up breasts. I also had designer shades on – just like Katie's,” says Chelsea.

“She asked if my boobs were real and when I told her they were blow up ones she poked them because she didn't believe me. She said I looked great. She was really nice and down to earth. I told her one day I wanted real boobs bigger than hers and she said 'Go for it!”

A year later, inspired by his idol, Matthew paid for a £5K boob job in Thailand.

“They gave me FF implants and I felt like I had the best boobs in the world! They made me feel like a lady. I needed lots of pain relief and it took two weeks to recover but it was worth it.”

In 2008 Matthew changed his name by deed poll to Chelsea and in 2010 he made an appointment with a private gender specialist in London.

Chelsea says: “I toned down my image and wore tracksuits and jeans, like Jordan, when I wanted to dress more casually.”

Chelsea was put on the NHS waiting list for £10K gender reassignment surgery and prescribed hormones.

But Matthew was told he needed to lose weight before doctors could operate as he was at risk of complications. But she was told to lose the weight before the op, as she was at risk of complications.

Dressed as her idol, Jordan, when she was a teenager

She lost 8st dieting and exercising and, in 2012, had the operation.

“I love my curves and I'm so happy with my body now,” says Chelsea, who wants to be a celebrity chat show host.

“I see myself as a role model for plus-size women. You can be just as sexy with curves as you can if you're skinny.”

Chelsea - who often hosts at Sparkle, a national transgender celebration - says: “I want to get married and kids.

“I'd love to have a Cinderella wedding carriage, just like Jordan! Hopefully, one day, I can thank her for inspiring me to become the person I was born to be."

Written by: Jocelyn Cook

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