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17 October 2009

Miranda Ponsonby (1933 - ) soldier, farmer, nurse.

Rhodri Davies was raised in a house on Wimbledon Common. His father was a fighter pilot in the Great War, and reservist who died in the Second World War. His mother died in an air accident over Frankfurt in 1952.

He had sexual experiences at his boys' public school, where he gained respect by becoming the captain of the cricket XI.

After school he went to Africa to work on the family’s cattle farm, where he was also a big game hunter.

He did National service in the Life Guards, part of the Household Cavalry, and stayed for ten years rising to the rank of captain and serving in Egypt and Aden, where he was almost killed when his vehicle was blown up. He escorted the Queen, was in the guards at Whitehall, and played polo.

He then took over the family farm in Leicestershire. He met his wife, June, on a course for riding instructors. They had two sons.

After 30 years of marriage they divorced and his oldest son took over the farm. In 1994 Rhodri decided that it was time to become Miranda Ponsonby (Ponsonby being her mother's maiden name). She couldn’t be bothered with a real life test:
“I said bugger that to all that messing about. I saw this chap, a cosmetic surgeon, at a clinic in Huntingdon. I don't think he's practising any more. I asked him how much to skip all that bloody nonsense. He said £6,000. About a week later, I went up to some dreadful place called Rotherham. I hadn't ever dressed as a woman before. So I bought some women's clothes, put them in a suitcase, and drove up on a rainy, awful day. It was a horrifying operation. They managed to leave part of one of my testicles behind. Which was a bit careless. After a day, I decided to go home."
Miranda trained as a nurse at Guys Hospital, and is the oldest nurse ever to qualify in the National Health Service. She has now worked at the Kettering General Hospital for 10 years, and is currently in the coronary care unit.

She is quite open about her past. Her family, her regiment and the hunting set all cut her off. She claims that she is no happier now than she was before the operation. Her advice to those contemplating sex change surgery is "I would say don't do it. I am a very strong person and if you are not you will be destroyed by it”.

She published her autobiography in 2009.


  1. Dear Miranda,

    I have just heard your story on BBC Radio Four and had to send this note to say how amazed and inspired I have been by your courage and capacity for living such an amazingly full and engaged life...often alone and let down badly by those who you might have hoped would have the depth to understand that love is genderless and whom it is so sad that have been unevolved enough to grasp that simple but yet much unappreciated concept.

    Thank you for your inspiration and I hope your years to come prove to bring you a resolution and peace and a recognition that you are truly loved - despite the as yet undeveloped human condition as it manifests in so many arenas of life. I feel sure that in your next life you will find true and enduring connection with a soul mate - you deserve it.

    With love and respect...Jen x

  2. Dear Miranda

    I too was truly moved to hear your heartrending story on Michael Buerk's programme - so moved that I wept. You are to be applauded for having the courage to appear on the programme and to relate so frankly and often with humour the horrendous experiences you have been through.

    Your fortitude at school, courage in wartime, and forbearance thoughout marriage and the losses incurred by 'coming out', show you to be an extraordinarily brave and caring person.

    The nursing work you are doing now is hugely valuable and I hope brings you satisfaction and some happiness. Sometimes big personal decisions have to be made, and if you hadn't made this decision you may have spent the rest of your life unhappily regretting not being honest with yourself.

    I think you are brilliant and wish you very well.


  3. Anonymous2/1/10 09:57

    Dear Miranda,

    My wife worked with you on coronary care, I just have read your book, it is excellent, I have changed my views somewhat as a result of it.

    Anne always spoke highly of you, and the book has helped me to understand a little more.

    Very best wishes



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