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'Surgery saved my life', says trans man

During Transgender Awareness Week ITV Anglia has been bringing you the story of trans man Frankie, as he was about to embark on surgery to give him a masculine chest.

Frankie, 21, was born a girl but realised by the age of four that he did not feel comfortable in his own skin.

Frankie was about four years old when he realised something was wrong.

"I was about four years old when I realised that was something was wrong," he told ITV News Anglia.

"I didn't have the words to explain how I felt. I just knew that my body wasn't right. It didn't match with what was inside my head and I ignored it for a long time. I denied it. I tried to be a little girl but it just didn't work out."

Frankie was 16 when he began to transition as a male.

Desperate to finally feel comfortable in his own skin, he started to look into options for surgery on the NHS but was shocked to find he would have to wait around six years to go under the knife.

Frankie raised £6,000, partly by crowd-funding, to avoid years of waiting for the operation on the NHS.

Ten weeks after the operation ITV Anglia's Natalie Gray caught up with Frankie and his Mum at their home in Norwich.

Frankie showing ITV Anglia's Natalie Gray his surgery scars.

"I'm feeling amazing. I didn't expect to feel this good so soon. I just feel free and comfortable and able to wear whatever I want which is something I've never been able to do. I can't explain how good it feels."

Frankie says he tried so hard to be a girl but it made him so mentally ill that he tried killing himself several times.

"I would not be here if I'd had to wait for the NHS that's the bottom line. I wouldn't be here."

Frankie's not planning to have any more surgery. He says he is finally happy with how he is. He hopes by sharing his story, it will help others.

Initiatives such as Transgender Awareness Week are battling to help raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and address the issues the community faces.

Help and advice for those affected by trans issues are offered by organisations such as:

  • Stonewall - LGBT equality charity
  • Mermaids - Family and individual support for gender diverse and transgender children and teenagers
  • Sparkle - National transgender charity

Dr Rozina Ali is an aesthetic and reconstructive surgeon whose worked with individuals undergoing gender reassignment including at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

In an interview with ITV News Anglia's Jonathan Wills, Dr Ali says, mental health deserves the same status as physical health.

"I think we have to share these limited resources. There are lots and lots of emotive situations. All I am saying is, please think about these vulnerable groups, they don't always say what they need. They deserve societies care and they are tax payers too."

– Dr Rozina Ali

Watch Jonathan Wills' interview with Dr Rozina Ali below.