Looking in the mirror is painful for Shayne Fletcher.
"When I get out of the shower and I have to look in the mirror, it gives me anxiety," said Fletcher. "It's probably the worst part of my day."
Shayne, who was born Melissa, doesn't feel what he sees in the mirror reflects who he is really is as a person.
"It is going to be nice once I look in the mirror and see myself for who I am as a person on the outside like I am on the inside," Fletcher explained.
According to Shayne, he struggled to identify as a female starting as a young child. He recalls not being interested in Barbie dolls. Instead, gravitating toward his older brother and even wearing his brother's clothes.
Still, in an attempt to "fit in" he kept his blonde hair long, wore a dress to his mother's wedding to please her and even posed for glamour shots.
"I never related to girls," he explained.
Fletcher didn't vocalize his feelings.
Then, at the age of 28, he made the realization, he was man born with a female's body.
"I became extremely depressed, I withdrew myself from everyone. I guess I was trying to just hide from myself," he recalled.
Fletcher sought out a therapist and then went to a second. The diagnosis remained the same, doctors told Fletcher he was transgender.
Ten months ago, he decided to begin hormone therapy, injecting himself once a week with testosterone.
He's now growing facial hair and his voice is changing.
But, this is only part of his journey.
In order for his driver's license to say male instead of female and in order to feel complete, Fletcher wants to undergo gender reassignment surgery.
He only wants top surgery at this point.
He says having breasts feels strange and makes him feel like a stranger in his own body.
"Once I put my binder on and I put my clothes on and my hat and things that make me feel more masculine, I feel more comfortable just being alone in my flesh," Fletcher said.
Fletcher, who works in the health industry, told ABC Action News his insurance opted out of covering gender reassignment surgery. Surgery can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $50,000, making it cost prohibitive for many.
Despite saving money, Fletcher still cannot afford surgery.
He is now turning to crowdfunding in hopes of completing his transformation.
"It's rough, not being able to go and take care of the things you need to take care of, just to feel good about yourself," he said.
Shayne's GoFundMe Page is aptly titled, "Becoming Shayne."
He writes, "My name is Shayne and I've created this account to take the next step in my journey as becoming the person I was born to be. I've posted a video describing who I am as a transgender individual, so please feel free to watch. Being transgender is not a choice, it's a life or death matter and I'm here to speak out about who I need to be in order to live a happy and healthy life."
For those who cannot donate monetarily, Shayne is asking for those people to educate themselves about the struggle transgender men and women face.
"Surgery is not something we do for cosmetic reasons. Surgery is to make us feel comfortable with who we are as a whole. Being born in the wrong body is something that is indescribable. It's a feeling you only understand truly if it happens to you," Fletcher said.
TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY RESOURCES
Those transitioning like Shayne have resources available to them to make the emotional journey more manageable.
At Metro LGBT Centers in St. Petersburg, bi-monthly support groups are held where those transitioning can share experiences, explore emotions, and express themselves.
Click here to find out more about their programs.
At aTransLife Matters in Tampa, transgender group counseling is offered. Support groups are also offered for family member's of transgender men and women.
If you are interested in joining these groups, you can contact Saralee Fackelman, via phone at 813.716.4264 or via email at email@example.com.