Helping transgender women with their transition was not something Gill Springgay had initially intended to do when she launched her image consultancy service.
But when a male friend unexpectedly asked her to do his makeup, she realised there was no image consultancy service for a person who was transgender.
She changed her client focus and launched Makeover Girl Reinvent Yourself, working with males who are transitioning or have already transitioned.
Now, following 10 years of helping male clients make the first steps towards transitioning into a female, she has been nominated in the Positive Role Model category at the National Diversity Awards 2019.
To view her work click here: Here are examples of the styling work for transgender women done by Makeover Girl in Eccleston
Gill, who works from her studio at her Eccleston home, says: “I used to be a housing officer for Chorley Council and I got made redundant. I always had a vision to set up a makeover and image consultancy business as I have always been interested in hair and makeup ever since I was a little girl.
“I studied at night school and set up a website.
“A male friend came to me and asked if I could do his makeup and make him look female. He came to my home and we had a talk about how he would looking terms of clothes, hair and makeup and. I was completely amazed at how feminine I could make him look.
“He was happy and I thought I had a talent for it. I saw the possibility of what I could do.”
Gill began seeking out transgender support groups and visited the Manchester Concord social group, offering demonstrations every month.
She adds: “I have never had any female clients. I decided to focus on transgender women. There are a lot of people who need my help and I have lots of clients in transition. “
Gill’s work reaches beyond teaching about hair and makeup, as she helps her clients become more confident in their new look and accept who they are.
She adds: “I go out shopping with my clients and quite often it is their first step out.
“I give them the ability to see themselves as females, rather than a man in drag. They never thought they could look feminine until I teach them how.
“I give my clients makeup tutorials and look at their body shape so I can tell them what clothes suit them. I do a colour analysis and as I stock wigs to suit their face shape and skin tone.”
Gill develops strong friendships with her clients and supports them through their transitional journey.
She adds: “I am not a trained counsellor but I can support my clients as I listen to them and help them feel relaxed. In some cases, I am the first person they have told about transitioning.
“I have a few links with gender clinics and counsellors where I can signpost people to.
“Not everyone is in transition. Quite a lot of clients seem to be the same age - in their 40s, 50s and 60s - who are married and have had children. “They have struggled to keep their identity in and are scared to make the first step.
“It is hard enough dealing with their image as they thought they were male and they are now presenting themselves as female.
“Even though the concept is more accepted in society, it is still terrifying for the person.
“But when they are fully dressed they feel more relaxed as their brain is telling them they are a woman.”
Gill has more than 100 clients from all over the UK and has people coming from as far as London, Ireland and Scotland.
She has also written various magazine articles on the subject and was poised to take part in a Channel Four documentary until her client no longer wished to take part.
Gill, who has two daughters aged 14 and 12, says: “I was the first image consultant exclusively for transgender women and I offer a specialist service so I have clients from quite far. I have links to a local B&B so people can stay overnight.
“I had Channel Four filming in my home as part of The Making Of Me. I was supposed to be on episode four but my client pulled out so we didn’t get aired.
“I have been lucky enough to have been invited several times to judge Miss Transliving in Eastbourne and Miss Rose Pageant in Scarborough, donating prizes and offering my sponsorship. I also attended the Beaumont Society Harrogate events for several years offering my services and sponsorship. I also voluntarily wrote regular fashion and beauty articles for their magazine.
“My service has grown and grown, so much so I have been mentored by Virgin, who is helping me upgrade my website and promote my business.”
Part of Gill’s aim is to educate people about transgender and make the notion more accepted.
She adds: “My aim is to break down barriers and show it is normal. People who are transgender are no different to anybody else.”
Gill now needs your votes to be shortlisted for the next stage of the National Diversity Awards 2019, which take place at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral on September 20.
To vote, visit www.nationaldiversityawards.co.uk/nominate.
Voting closes May 31 and the shortlisted nominees will be announced soon after that.
Gill adds: “I love my job and I am thrilled to be nominated. These awards are to celebrate diversity and the people who have supported and inspired others. Even though I am not transgender myself, I have helped quite a lot of people and some say I have inspired them to go out and be proud.”
For more information on Gill’s work, visit www.makeovergirl.co.uk.