A married couple who married as husband and wife plan to renew their vows as two women – with the bride insisting “it’s the person I fell in love with – not the body.”
Jae Harvey, 32, met her partner Rayna, 35, on Myspace in 2009, but after two years in a long-distance relationship, the pair split.
The couple rekindled their romance and got married – husband and wife – in Jae’s hometown – Dallas, Texas, in March 2018 before returning to the UK, where Rayna is from, later that year.
However, Rayna struggled with her identity and confided in Jae during their honeymoon – who promised to stay with her and help her through her transition.
Five years later, the couple living in Somerset plan to renew their vows with Rayna now living as her authentic self, and try to get her a gender recognition certification from the UK government.
Jae and Rayna Harvey, who live in Somerset, got married in 2018 before Rayna began her transition, yet
The graphic designer said, “I can’t wait to walk down the aisle in a dress.
“Our first wedding was still really cool, we got really drunk and ate a lot of cake.
“I didn’t think about it that day, but I’ve been struggling with my identity since I was eleven.
“To marry as a woman, I have to undergo psychoanalysis by two independent psychiatrists to prove that I have been living as myself for two years.
“After what I’ve been through, I feel very left out and like I don’t matter.”
Jae, a photographer originally from Dallas, said, “We want to have a black and white wedding and wear black dresses to symbolize death and rebirth.”
The couple first met on social media in 2008 and started talking non-stop in 2010.
Rayna flew over in August 2010 to visit Jae in America, but they couldn’t let their relationship go to the end and broke up at the end of 2011.
Rayna, right, has been living as a woman since 2018 and the couple want to renew their vows as wife and wife
After Jae later found out that Rayna had separated from her partner after five years, Jae contacted her via Facebook in the summer of 2017.
Jae added: ‘I came to see Rayna in October 2017 and it was like seven years hadn’t passed.
‘Rayna introduced me as I was about to board my flight at Bristol Airport which was in Costa.
“She made a cheeky comment that I was staying and I said you should propose to me – she did.
“I went home in the clouds.”
The couple married in March 2018 in an intimate ceremony in Jae’s mother’s garden.
“We got married the first time in my mom’s backyard and it was a very small wedding,” she shared.
Pictured on their wedding day in 2018. Rayna confided in Jaw that she struggled with her identity during their honeymoon
The British resident has spent £70,000 on gender-affirming surgeries since her transition, with her last taking place in 2022
“Unfortunately, Rayna’s family couldn’t attend because her grandfather passed away the week before.”
The newlyweds then returned to the UK so that Jae could start her visa application process.
A few months after the wedding, Rayna confided in Jae that she had thoughts and feelings she didn’t understand.
They discussed it during their honeymoon in Center Parks, Longleat, Warminster, Wiltshire, in June 2018.
Jae said, “I told her I was glad she told me and that I didn’t feel like she had to live in the dark and fake.
“We tried androgyny and cross-dressing.
Jae said she fell in love with Rayna, before she left, as a person and not just her body, and supported her through the ordeal
“I thought her best chance of presenting as a woman would be our honeymoon because we wouldn’t know anyone.
“I bought makeup and hair stuff and let her borrow one of my purses and we went out to dinner at Bella Italia.
“The waiter said ‘good evening ladies’ and I could see it all over her face.”
The newlyweds then returned to their cabin and had an open discussion.
Jae added: ‘I asked what I wanted to ask and what it meant for us and what the transition would look like.
“It’s the person I fell in love with – not the body.”
Jae then taught Rayna how to do hair and makeup and became her biggest supporter.
Rayna started hormone replacement therapy in August 2018 while Jae went home to apply for her visa.
In December 2018, she came out publicly on Facebook and everyone supported her with open arms.
The couple, now pictured, have been happily married for five years and are looking to renew their vows to be recognized as wives and wives
“We had the full support of everyone, even Rayna’s 95-year-old grandmother is on board giving her granddaughter cards,” said Jae.
Rayna added: ‘I feel like me now.
‘Life is a lot easier now that I can go about my daily activities without any worries.
“I had been struggling since I was 11 years old, but I didn’t know what being trans was.
“I had mostly female friends at school and loved dressing up and being someone else for Halloween.”
Rayna began the long transition period with hormone therapy in 2018, followed by an orchidectomy – a procedure to remove the testicles – in May 2019.
She also underwent breast augmentation, facial surgery and finally a full removal of the penis in February 2022. Her surgery cost a total of £70,000, which her parents helped her with.
She has her last buttock surgery Spire Yale, Wrexham – because she remained on the NHS waiting list after a first appointment five years ago.
The last procedure almost killed Rayna because she lost so much blood.
Jae added: “It was a total freak accident, something that can happen during this operation.
The doctor described it as “carnage.” It was supposed to be three and a half hours, but it came to seven and she was still there.
“She couldn’t tolerate a transfusion, but took iron tablets – everyone calls her a machine because she never took any painkillers after the operation.”
To marry as a woman, Rayna needs a government gender recognition certificate – it’s a certificate to recognize her as a woman – despite changing her name, driver’s license and passport.
She doesn’t want to have to jump through endless hoops to prove her femininity and the couple refuse to get married until Rayna can tie the knot as her true self.
Jae said, “It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been switching or what you’ve been doing.
“The government has made it so hard – there are so many hoops to jump through.”
Rayna added: ‘I understand there should be a process to verify who I am, but many people struggle to get gender recognition certificates.
“It’s a soul-destroying process after going through so much.
“Jae and I can’t go on as long as it’s a thing. We want to be visible.’