SINGAPORE - She often tells people that she has two birthdays.
The first is in July when she was born. And the second is in November.
"That's when I was reborn into the woman I am now," said Miss Amy Tashiana Ali , 47, with a chuckle as she tossed back her long locks.
She was born a man but she always felt she was trapped in the wrong body.
That did not stop her from pursuing her childhood dream of becoming a model.
In the 1980s and 1990s, she appeared in fashion spreads in the glossies.
She also walked down runways in many fashion shows alongside the top local models of the era, such as Freda Amir and Anita Akbar.
And except for her friends and those in the modelling industry, no one suspected that she was a man.
But life was not all smooth sailing for the former model.
Her mother died when she was seven years old and her father soon married a woman whom she could not get along with.
So she ran away from home when she was 13 and dropped out of school in Secondary 2.
A group of older transsexuals then took her in and prepared her for her ultimate transformation.
"They taught me how to put on make-up, how to dress and how to develop my breasts..." she said.
She started taking hormones to become more feminine when she turned 14.
Then, one day, her elder sister came looking for her.
"She asked me what I was doing and I told her what I wanted to be. My sister said that if I were to be a woman, then, it's better to be a good one. I was also advised to make peace with my dad. So, after that, I began visiting my family on and off."
To earn a living, she worked mainly in the food and beverage industry.
She went for breast implants at the age of 17. and then decided to sign up for a modelling course with Carrie Models.