Medical Reporter Stephanie Stahl reports on asurgery on the rise, switching genders, or men becoming women and women turning into men. It is a delicate and complicated surgery anda difficult psychological journey.
A LIVERPOOL man's remarkable struggle to be accepted as a woman is set to be made into a major Hollywood movie.
Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones has been lined up to star in the film depicting the life of April Ashley - the first British transsexual.
Born as a boy in Liverpool in Sefton General Hospital in Smithdown Road in1935 and christened George Jamieson, he grew up in extreme poverty in a dockland slum in Pitt Street.
Struggling with his identity, the young George joined the Navy at 14 and, tortured by his desire to be a woman, attempted suicide aged 16 and was held in a high security mental hospital.
But after joining a cabaret show in Paris and having a sex change operation in Casablanca, George became April. April's life story will be given the Hollywood treatment but there will be no need for embellishment to draw in crowds at the cinema.
April, now 70, led her life at the centre of the fashion world and mingled with high society.
She made a name for herself as a top model with vogue, hung out with John Lennon and had nights of passion with Omar Sharif.
In 1983 it was also reported that she spent the night with the late Michael Hutchence, who at the time was 25 years her junior.
Today she still receives Christmas cards from deputy prime minister John Prescott who she once met in a boarding house.
American film producer Mark Sennet has the film rights to a new book released due to be this May entitled First Lady.
Sennet is currently in talks with Catherine Zeta-Jones' agents who it is hoped will play April.April said: "I said in an interview that I would like her to play me in any film about my life. I like to think she epitomises everything I stood for when I was young - which was sheer old-fashioned glamour."
April, who now lives in France, refers to her miraculous journey to be accepted as "My Odyssey" and is glad that her story is being told.
She added: "My childhood in Liverpool was tough. Systematic bullying and taunting about my feminine good looks brought the early and awful realisation that if a person were not what people considered normal then that person was considered a freak"
"However I knew I was a woman and could not live in a male body. "
When she went through with the sex change operation it was still a fairly new procedure and doctors told her she only had a 50 per cent chance of survival. On May 12, 1960, George became April Ashley - named after the month of her birth and the Gone With The Wind character Ashley Wilkes.
April starred in her first movie, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope's The Road to Hong Kong.
But when news of her operation broke, film promoters dropper her name from the credits. In 2004, April was given the right to legally call herself a woman after new government legislation was passed to give transgender people legal equality.
She said: "The term sex change has segued into the politically correct term gender reassignment."
"Public attitudes in the Western world have become non-judgmental and tolerant of sexual differences. Most important, the legal systems of many countries have recognised the rights of transsexuals to appropriate social documentation and to marry and lead socially conventional lives."