A transgender man who was born female is crowdfunding to have his breast tissue surgically removed.
Miko Tagara, 22, knew from an early age he did not identify with the gender he was born with. He hated wearing dresses and responding to his birth name, which he now chooses not to reveal.
He revealed he identifies as transgender in March this year, after initially coming out at bisexual five years ago and has now been taking testosterone for three months to aid his physical transition.
He says his girlfriend of almost three years, Dominique Labuguen, has been "[his] rock" through the process of transitioning.
"She just wants me to be happy. I don't think me being transgender matters to her, she just loves me anyway," he says.
Despite confronting his identify, Bristol-based Tagara, who was born in Spain and lived in the Philippines until 2006, still suffers from depression and anxiety.
He says he feels “mental anguish” due to his breasts, which he currently uses “binding” (a method of flattening breasts using constrictive materials such as cloth or bandages) in order to disguise.
“I currently use a binder to help achieve a flatter, male-looking chest. Binding has helped with my dysphoria but it has caused me to have some back pain as well as a lot of discomfort especially during the hot weather,” he explains.
Therefore, Taggara is fundraising using a Go Fund Me fundraiser page in order to raise the £6,650 he needs to remove his fatty breast tissue – a process known as “top surgery”.
While the process is available on the NHS, Miko says he cannot wait “years and years” until a slot becomes available. So, he has taken steps to raise money for the £6,650 private surgery himself – which he has scheduled for this coming December, depending on whether he is able to raise the funds.
“I know that undergoing this surgery will reduce the physical pain and mental anguish I fight on a daily basis - this is an absolute necessity as it will make me feel less trapped in my own body,” he writes on his Go Fund Me page.
“The surgery is not something I purely want, it’s something I need to be able to survive and go on to lead my life,” he says. “I look at men and feel jealous as I cannot just take my top off in the summer like they do and be who I am.
“I miss being able to play the sports I love and being active, without being self-conscious about how my chest looks or if it's obvious I'm wearing a binder.”
You can donate to Miko Tagara’s Go Fund Me page here.