A 56-year-old transgender man from Peveragno, Italy, spent £52,000 trying to achieve the “perfect female body since coming out.”
Fulvia Pellegrino, who hid his(her) desire to change sex for 40 years, has undergone a series of grueling procedures to achieve his current look including more than 150 lip and cheekbone fillers, four breast implants and two rounds of liposuction.
Pellegrino, who was born with the name Fulvio and has the full support of her wife Marisa, has also spent nearly £9,000 on surgery on her bottom and is now planning even more.
Marisa admits that while she’s standing by her husband, the pair are now more like sisters than a married couple.
Fulvia said: ‘I am not happy with my ‘perfect’ body, because it is not perfect. Perfection is something else.’
Fulvia was just fifteen years old when she first realised she was transgender but fearful of her strict religious family, and her father who was in the clergy, Fulvia kept her feelings a secret.
She explains: ‘I was living with my family who were very narrow minded and very religious. I never manifested my will because it was impossible with my dad. He had three sons and he wanted three sons only.’
The troubled youngster kept her torment hidden even when she met Marisa, 32 years ago. Soon after they were wed, Fulvia began visiting gay clubs and cross-dressing in private in her garage.
She said: ‘I was feeling trapped in my body. I hid in the garage and put make-up on dressed like a woman. I never showed that side of me because I was ashamed of it.
Fulvia masked her turmoil and exaggerated her masculinity in public, buying guns and owning expensive cars.
She said: ‘It is difficult to grow up with a body which is not yours. You try to mask it in every way playing football, drinking beers, buying American 4x4s and go shooting to feel like a man.
‘Instead you understand it is a mask and so you need to throw it away and become what you are.’
Finally, 16 years ago, Fulvia could no longer hide her struggle and confessed to Marisa that she wanted to transition.
She said: ‘Obviously Marisa lost if for a moment, it is not something that is easy to accept. Today Marisa and I are nothing more than two sisters. We live together, we argue like two normal people but not like husband and wife.’
When Fulvia began her transition by receiving hormone therapy and looking into plastic surgery, Marisa visited a psychologist to help her come to terms with her new life. Fulvia’s parents were less accepting and refused to accept her in her new form.
She explains: ‘My dad asked my wife to sign a paper to send me into a psychiatric institution to make me change my mind.
‘It was very hard, when my father passed away they didn’t let us go to the funeral because they were ashamed of us. The only people who accepted me were my brothers.’
Despite her family’s turmoil, Fulvia began to pursue her extreme look with breast implants, a nose job and a face lift in 2004.
Three more breast augmentations were followed by liposuction, numerous fillers in her cheeks and lips and a £22,000 butt lift.
But Fulvia, who used to run a restaurant but no longer works, struggled financially. She sold her guns, cars and a house in France to pay for her expensive surgeries.
Now the pair struggle on Marisa’s wage as a holistic therapist. And while Marisa is happy to support Fulvia’s quest to achieve her desired look, inhabitants in their town of Peveragno have gone out of their way to exclude the couple.
Fulvia said: ‘I am now the clown of Peveragno. They point at me, they talk about me, they start inventing stories about me that I am a prostitute. My friends have all vanished – they didn’t accept me.’
‘I couldn’t be without Marisa and do what I do without her. She is always here with me.’
But despite the difficulty she faces Fulvia is desperate to continue her plastic surgery. She said: ‘I want to look like Allanah Starr, an American transgender porn star.
‘Plastic surgery is not a drug but its something that people like me need.
‘I am not happy with my face and other parts of my body.
‘I won’t stop here, I want to go ahead because it’s not perfect. If I reach perfection maybe I will stop.’