By Hannah Stevens @HANNAHSHEWANS
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Videographer / director: Elie Khadra
Producer: Hannah Stevens, Ruby Coote
Editor: Florence Kennard
A TRANSGENDER WOMAN born with half a body continues to defy her critics by finding love.
Piyah Martell was born with a rare congenital birth defect known as sacral agenesis.
Sacral agenesis is an abnormality that affects the lower vertebrae meaning Piyah’s spine and legs did not develop fully in the womb.
The 27-year-old uses a skateboard as a mobility aide and spends her time raising awareness of issues around disability in the LGBTQ+ community.
Originally born as Pedro, Piyah began her transition to a woman in her late teens, initially facing angry criticism from her father.
She told BTV: “My dad was not very happy with my decision.
“It took him years to finally start calling me by my name, he used to call me by my old name.
“He didn’t want his son to be a woman. It took him a year, we had arguments about that.
“It was hard for him but gradually later he learned that this isn’t a phase.”
Piyah concedes that growing up was challenging, saying she faced severe bullying and judgment during her teens for being different.
She said: “Going to high school was where a lot of bullying happened.
“Some of the difficulties in school was having to deal with people talking behind my back.
“They were rude, and called me names, saying, ‘You have no legs, you are an amputee.’
“I am just like, ‘Oh dear’, pushing all those mean people away.”
Piyah’s condition is so rare it is thought to affect less than one in every million people.
She has had to adapt her daily routine to live as normal a life as possible.
She explained: “My disability affects me outside of my house because I have to use a skateboard to get around.
“I have my nice little shoes that I wear inside and out of the house so that I don’t hurt my hands.
“I always make sure either I have gloves, slippers or some type of things on my hands to keep myself safe.”
Piyah admits she had struggled to meet someone who could accept her but six years ago she met Andrew.
She said: “My first impression of him was – what am I getting myself into?
“But then he has this, like, charm. He had this charm that I was really attracted to.
“Just like every normal couple we fight, we argue, we bicker but we always end up together and we make it work.
“That's the thing about relationships, we communicate.”
Her partner Andrew says he faces judgment daily but doesn’t care what people think.
He said: “I thought she is a very beautiful girl. She is sweet. She was nice. And I don't know, she is just wonderful.
“She just brightens up the day every day.”
The happy couple say despite Piyah’s birth defect their physical relationship is incredibly healthy.
Andrew said: “It’s not a challenge.
“Me and Piyah have a wonderful sex life. I see life as wonderful.”
Piyah hopes to have life changing surgery in the future completing her transition from male to female.