A SHOP manager can retire two years early...thanks to a sex change.

Roger Ninnim went home one Friday afternoon and returned on Monday morning as Lizi.

Behind the six-footer’s confident power-dressing in smart blouses and high heels were the uncertainties caused by such a life-changing decision.

Bosses at the Range store, in Clacton, knew Roger was living a double life when he joined the firm. Qualified forklift truck driver Lizi had to have counselling and live as a woman for two years before she could have a sex-change operation 12 months ago.

Now her birth certificate has been legally changed to say she was born female.

The ruling means Lizi, 63, can retire two years earlier than if she was still a man. Not that she sees it as an easy route to an early pension. Lizi said: “I wouldn’t recommend it – it would make your eyes water!”

Lizi consulted her workmates before the sex change five years ago, and every member of staff backed the move. She said: “I went to work one day as a male, had the weekend off, and on Monday I went in as a woman.”

The old Roger even had a leaving bash. She said: “They bought me a present and had a leaving do for him. Then on the Monday they had a welcome party for Lizi.”

But it was far from plain sailing for Lizi, who rose to the rank of duty manager at the store, in Valley Bridge Road. The old Roger had tried to hide a secret double life after “coming out” to himself in 2000 and telling his wife.

Lizi said: “She knew something was going on because she found make-up on my clothes…but it was on the inside.

“She struggled with it for a few years and then we parted company after 35 years of marriage”

Lizi’s grown-up children also found it difficult to deal with the revelation, but she insists she made the right choice.

She said: “I realised you only have one life and you have to live it, or end up being a miserable old person. You can try to keep it to yourself and hide it from everyone.”

She hopes to go into charity work after workmates gave her a big retirement send-off.

Lizi described Clacton as “not the most understanding town”, but said customers accepted her.

She said: “It doesn’t bother me if people make comments. I’ve never regretted what I’ve done.

“I wish there was a way of not hurting people but, sadly, it’s not possible without destroying yourself, so what can you do?”

“People need to understand you’re not weird – you were just born in the wrong body.”