UK -- Ex-weapons and explosives specialist Charles Pontiero, 40, has moved from the U.S. to UK to live with 'her' girlfriend and is saving up for sex-change surgery.
Charles met her partner, student Maria, 29, online, changed her name to Alessia... and became an actress.
Alessia-Charles says she's decided to live openly as a woman in the UK because it's easier to change sex in Britain than the U.S.
She has married three times and has two teenage children, and confesses to always feeling more like a girl than a boy. However, she had to hide her feminine side during her years in the military.
Her family has a military background, she explains, so she joined the army. But this was not "right".
When she told her family members that she wanted to live as a woman, there were "no surprises," she recalls, as her family have "always known" about how she really felt. Her closest ones were extremely supportive, she adds.
Alessia, who hails from South Dakota, U.S., served for more than 15 years in the US army as a weapons and explosives specialist in the Balkans, Middle East and Somalia. She now hopes to build an acting career and is glad to be finally living the life that she was supposed to.