Jamie O’Herlihy, 23, a bartender in Dublin and Chloe O’Herlihy, 20, a hairdressing student living in Cork, spent years struggling with their genders but never talked to anyone about it.
But last summer when the then brothers were at home in Cork together for Chloe’s – then called Daniel’s – graduation they opened up to each other.
Within days, both brothers had come out as transgender and, with the pair both now planning to go under the knife for gender reassignment surgery, they are sharing their story in the hope of inspiring others to be true to themselves.
Jamie said: “It’s a cliché to say ‘I always knew’ but I did and I just kept pushing it to the back of my mind.
“Then I started doing some drag shows in the evenings and I realised how comfortable I felt dressed up.
“I tried to ignore it but it got to the point where when the morning came round I didn’t want to take off the drag because it was a better representation of me than I was.
“So I came out to Chloe and our mum last summer and by November I had come out to all my friends and colleagues.”
Chloe said: “I always wore makeup and had longer hair. I’ve never really been considered one of the lads, I was always one of the girls.
“It’s weird that we were both going through exactly the same thing and having the same thoughts about being trans but just not talking to each other.
“Then when Jamie came out and told us, I was like ‘right this is something you are going to have to face too’.”
Jamie, who has kept her birth name since transitioning, always wanted a little sister.
When she found out her mum was pregnant she was so excited she picked out the name Chloe – and so was devastated when she came home with new baby brother Daniel instead.
But now, after the siblings both came out, Jamie has the sister she always wanted and Chloe has even taken on the name her sister chose for her 20 years ago.
Jamie and Chloe said they were never stereotypical boys, choosing dressing up over football and Bratz dolls over Action Man.
But while they were allowed to be ‘free’ at home together – dressing up as female celebrities like Britney Spears and wearing their t-shirts as skirts – they had to keep each other’s secret when they were at school.
Jamie said: “I always wanted a sister and the doctors even thought Chloe was a girl when she was in the womb because of how she was positioned.
“When my mum came home with Daniel I threw a proper hissy fit. I was not having any of it. From the age of two I was dressing her up in tutus.
“All our childhood memories are us dressing up as our favourite celebs and putting t-shirts on our heads so we had long hair or wearing them as skirts.
“We were so free and we were allowed to do that in our home.
“But when we got to school we realised it was not okay to do that with other people so we kept it as our secret.
“We did a good job of hiding it. It’s sad because we were so happy at home and always so upset that we had to hide that part of ourselves with our friends.”
Chloe and Jamie are now supporting each other in their journey to become fully-transitioned women and even plan to have gender reassignment surgery in future.
However, the sisters admit that during their transition the emotional and physical process has been very different for both of them.
Both have struggled with anxiety and panic attacks as they have embraced their new lives but the pair insist their surgery will not be “drastic” in terms of how it will change their appearance.
Chloe said: “We talk a lot about our transition and it is great to have each other. We know exactly how each other feel.
“If I’m out and I get a funny look or comment and I’m feeling anxious I can call Jamie and she knows exactly what to say.
“But I think we’re both at very different stages. Growing up I always had my hair long and wore kind of feminine clothes so it’s easier for me to go out now as a woman.
“Jamie has always been the more confident one but at the moment her anxiety is through the roof because leaving the house as a woman is new and it is hard.
“When we start taking our oestrogen it could affect us both at different rates so we’ll be ready for surgery at different times. But we will definitely go together.
“The surgery won’t be drastic. We are just hoping to enhance our beauty in a more female way.”
Jamie added: “I’ve never been in hospital so surgery scares me – so we need to have each other.
“We don’t see ourselves going in and leaving with a brand new face, but for us to live a happy life where we don’t have to worry we need people to not have to question ‘is that a man or is that a woman?’.
“And there are some features like a softer jaw that are inherent to women.
“I do not want to change too much but I also don’t want to look in the mirror and see any resemblance of male.
“It sounds dramatic but I’m trying to undo the wrong that was done to me at birth and I don’t need any reminders of the struggle of having to carry this male body.”