A Turkish trans man actor has come out, discussing his decision to undergo gender reassignment surgery and his experiences prior, saying that he now feels “free” and like he has been “born again”.

Rüzgar Erkoçlar, 26 and formerly known as Nil, is relatively well-known in Turkey, and reflected in interviews on that he never identified as a woman, reports Hurriyet Daily News.

Mr Erkoçlar said that from the age of six he never felt that he could identify with his body. He said: “I was not like other girls. I didn’t play with Barbie dolls, but hung out with boys.” He went on to say that he was a boy “only physically.”

He said that he never wanted to wear dresses when he was younger, but kept that a secret, saying: “When I entered into adolescence everything hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that I liked girls, but I had a women’s body. This was really hard for me.”

He said that he felt no connection to the way he looked before he transitioned: “I never wanted to be like that, [with a woman’s body]. I wanted to change my body and become free again.”

“I was acting the way society wanted me to all the time. I had short hair and people told me, ‘you are an actress; you should let your hair grow.’ I put in artificial hair extensions. I really wanted to do my job well, but I was always acting in controversial ways,” he continued, saying that he eventually decided to have gender reassignment surgery.

“I felt as if I was born again after the operation. Nil was dead and Rüzgar was born instead.”

Discussing hormone therapy, he said: “You feel angry [when you take hormones], and you gradually observe some changes in your mind. I feel better now.

“[The process] was very hard to endure, but I put up with all these things to get rid of the burden I had been carrying for 26 years.”

He said that he had never had a relationship with a man, but always with women, however he had to keep that a secret. He said: “I have never loved, nor had a relationship with a man. I always had affairs with women, but I had to conceal this all the time.”

“I risked everything by going through this, and I don’t expect everyone to accept me as I am. They are free to accept or refuse me. But I am a man and that is my own reality. Only my body was different. Now I have found myself.”

He concluded the interview by saying: “This is my choice, my life, my sexuality. So it doesn’t concern anyone. That’s what I think,”