Published: 12:00, 20 November 2014
A transsexual who felt trapped in a man’s body was driven to self-castration and ultimately cut her own throat, an inquest heard.
Jonathan Lees-Ford – known in Canterbury as Lady Angel Seraphim-Angel – had tried in vain to get a sex change operation on the NHS.
At a heart-rending hearing, friends of the 36-year-old former Kent University student said she felt desperately lonely in the city.
Diane Harper, the legal executrix and “mother figure”, described how passers-by would routinely double-take and stare when they were in public.
“Angel was exotic, she was different to everyone – but in the end she felt so alone, and so sad,” said Mrs Harper outside the court.
Paramedics found Angel’s body on a sofa at her home in Holm Oak Close, Canterbury, on April 15.
There was an apparent suicide note on the floor, the inquest heard.
Consultant pathologist Dr Salim Anjarwalla told the court Angel died from huge blood loss caused by a laceration to her jugular, but had also taken a potentially fatal dose of morphine.
Mrs Harper told the hearing: “There was tremendous ambivalence going on with Angel. She had castrated herself – she wanted to be female. But there were times she would say ‘What have I done to myself?’”
Speaking afterwards, Mrs Harper said Angel had wanted to undergo gender transformation but her requests had been rejected.
“She felt betrayed by the system”, she said.
A close friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the horrific lengths Angel went to around six years ago in a desperate bid to transform her body.
“She removed her testicles with a scalpel,” said the friend. “She was sat in her armchair at home. She’d bought anaesthetic off the internet and injected herself with it.
She had castrated herself – she wanted to be female. But there were times she would say ‘What have I done to myself?’”
“She knew what she was doing, it was carefully planned. She knew how to preserve blood vessels and so on,” said the friend.
Ultimately Angel was never to be content with her body, and had always resented not being allowed the operation through the NHS.
The friend said that Angel had a history of mental health treatment and was deemed unfit for gender reassignment.
“Things were going to go ahead, many years ago, but the minute there was a hint of a mental health problem or disorder it wasn’t going to happen,” said the friend. “I think she would have been able to live her life as a woman.”
"She had castrated herself – she wanted to be female. But there were times she would say ‘What have I done to myself?’” - Diane Harper
Tragically no family members were present at the inquest. According to the friend, Angel was estranged from her parents, who live in another part of the country.
A number of health care officials were gathered to give evidence, but the hearing was postponed to late December following a security alert.
Kelly August, spokesman for Kent and Medway mental health trust, said the trust was unable to comment until the conclusion of the inquest.
Mrs Harper afterwards paid tribute to her dearly missed friend, saying: “She was like any friend – we laughed together, we cried together.
“But ultimately I think she was too exotic for this city.”
More by this authorChris Pragnell