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Beauty, Trust & Inner Peace: Medi Aesthetics & Transitioning

Beauty, Trust & Inner Peace: Medi Aesthetics & Transitioning

According to Francesca Martin: “For many trans people the experience of transitioning can
feel obsessive, so it’s important to have someone sensitive and perceptive at your back,
someone who’ll sometimes even say no.” Martin, a twenty-something London-based
transgender woman, model, and vocal trans rights advocate who’s been a patient at The
Lovely Clinic (TLC) for three years adds, “When it comes to medical aesthetics, there has got
to be a deep understanding alongside the art.”

Changing gender is a complicated journey physically, mentally, and emotionally in which
medical aesthetics can be a powerful guiding light in realising identity. Not only via the
comfort of instant change – the salve-like touch of treatments capable of cultivating a
critical sense of inner peace for the now – but also, for those with the right practitioner, as a
tool to navigating some of the bigger and more long-lasting changes that may lie ahead.
Trust is key for all, but never so poignant as when the stakes are so high and the change so

Charming, candid, and utterly luminous, Martin was born and raised in Newport, South
Wales into a large and loving family (one of seven children). But, like many in the LGBTQ+
community, she had no reference points for life beyond the heteronormative picture
(“neither trans nor queer”) only sensations and instincts, like a haircut or not wanting the
toys she was given, that were impossible to decipher. At 18 she moved to Brighton and
began play with make-up, unlocking a door to gender exploration which she swiftly realised
went far deeper and more permanent than anything akin to drag: “I didn’t want to take that
hair and make-up off. This wasn’t about an invented persona or a character, but about
understanding myself as a woman.”

Meeting TLC’s founder Dr. Sarah Tonks on a photoshoot kick-started a collaborative,
transformative professional relationship (and friendship) that’s seen the pair co-produce
content for Tonks’ social media channels as Martin has undergone a suite of treatments to
support her transition. The latter describes their meeting as a seminal moment: “I was
struggling because I felt like I had quite a peculiar face and such stereotypically tell-tale
male features, a strong eyebrow bone and forehead, that it would be impossible for me to
‘read’ as female. Sarah brought harmony to my face in the way she feminised it, using
dermal filler on my temples, cheeks, forehead, and jaw to round them out. Everything felt
plumped and rejuvenated. I went from very flat and angular to a softened version of myself,
which gave me so much optimism. It really brought me out of my shell.”

Since then, she’s visited the clinic twice a year, experiencing numerous treatments including
micro-needling skin treatment INTRAcel; chemical peels; and filler for her chin, jaw,
temples, under eyes (alongside lightening) and cheeks, “to create a wonderful love heart effect.”

She’s also had BBL Hero Intense Pulsed Light therapy for sun damaged skin and
embraced advanced muscle-relaxing injectables to relax her jaw, a process that softens
clenched muscles to create a natural-looking softer silhouette.


The skincare and dermal fillers were, she says, a game-changer in terms of self-acceptance
and a sense of progression: “The instant results made me feel like I was getting ahead in my
transition because they made me feel so much more at home in my body. These things took
me from feeling embarrassed about I how I looked, even ashamed, to feeling good in my
own skin, able to leave the house with confidence. It improved my quality of life
immeasurably; things are much less daunting for me now.”

Martin emphasises the importance for her of not looking too different, of interpretation and
revision rather than reinvention: “I really wanted to keep the essence of myself, to still look
like my family, particularly my sisters.” Tonks’ empathy but firm opinions have been key,
says Martin, to avoiding the “the kind of toxicity I think does exist in this space, where
people are often encouraged to do more.” There is zero judgement from Martin, only an
awareness of how without good guidance it can be hard to navigate what’s too much and
derail the very best intentions. “I’m absolutely not suggesting people shouldn’t change what
they feel is necessary but it’s the questioning that’s important if you want to be supported
in a healthy environment; I would hate to lose myself.” The opportunity for glamour is, she
acknowledges, something she herself hard finds hard to resist, “but I never want to look like
a caricature, so it’s important to have someone who’ll say no.” Has that ever happened? “At
one stage I wanted thread lifting, which Sarah is an expert in, and she explained to me why I
didn’t need it.”

Medical aesthetics offer an amazing alternative to surgery in some instances, says Martin
(“it can be way less drastic, such as having fillers rather having your jaw shaved”) but also a
great way to get a sense of what fully invasive, permanent work might be necessary in the
long-term. She’s currently having consultations for a browbone reduction and surgical
eyebrow raise – things that no amount of non-invasive artistry can achieve. “Sarah’s work is
about harmonisation and preservation not exaggeration, which is really important when
you’re considering the long-term. There are some thing medical aesthetics definitely can’t
do, but they’ve helped me understand what is necessary, how to understand my features
when discussing the lasting work [with a surgeon]. If I’d have had these consultations four
years ago, before my journey of treatments with TLC, I would have had totally unrealistic
expectations. It’s meant I’ve been able to decide my own narrative.”

The child with the buzz cut is finally finding both solace and joy: “It may sound dramatic but
my overall experience with Sarah has changed me as a person. Ultimately, I still feel like the
same person, but I’m simply a more feminised much healthier version of myself. I
understand I don’t need to be excessive, nor suit somebody else’s idea of beauty and
identity but mine. I don’t feel shame anymore, I feel beautiful and at ease.”