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Abby Hughes appears to be living the American dream, with a glamorous lifestyle with plenty of friends.

But her current happiness has come at a hefty price – her family.

Born in 1967 as Mark Hughes, Abby knew that she was in the wrong body well before her 10th birthday.

‘I used to pray at night and ask to wake up a little girl,’ she confesses. However, she decided to bottle her anxieties and continue to live as a man.

After four decades as Mark, and having suffered three nervous breakdowns, she finally worked up the courage to face her destiny and left her Manchester home to start a new life in Idaho, USA.

‘You come here and there’s no past record,’ grins Abby. ‘My life was allowed to completely start again.’

But achieving her newfound happiness cost Abby her marriage, home and family. She is now completely estranged from her parents and six children.

‘I’ve had everything taken off me,’ she says tearfully.

Abby has one photo of all her kids together, taken shortly before she left the UK, which she treasures more than anything in the world. She hopes that one day her family will be able to accept her for who she really is.

Despite the hard decisions, Abby is determined to stay to true to herself, and has successfully created a life for herself in America, and now plans to undergo full gender reassignment surgery, with the total support of her new friends.

‘She’s growing,’ says her best friend Dahlia Ansley. ‘She’s learning to be comfortable with who she’s always been but has never been able to express.’