By Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver Health is preparing to become the only hospital in Colorado, and one of a select few in the country, to offer gender reassignment surgery. The move is in response to growing demand in the transgender community.

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(credit: CBS)

Danielle Badler understands. She is a transgender woman who had the procedure four years ago in California.

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Danielle Badler (credit: CBS)

“No more secrets. I mean it’s really, it’s unbelievable. No more secrets,” Badler told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

Badler can finally say that at the age of 67. She was born a he, biologically a boy.

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(credit: Danielle Badler)

“At age 5, I knew I was different, and I felt like I should be a girl,” Badler said.  “I was deathly afraid that anybody would find out. There was nothing I could do, so I sublimated the whole thing and went on with my life.”

That was life as Richard Badler. That life included work in corporate communications, a 35-year-long marriage, two daughters and grandsons.

“I had a very close friend who was transgender and had a stroke and died,” Badler said.

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CBS4’s Kathy Walsh interviews Danielle Badler. (credit: CBS)

That was the impetus to transition. The process included hormone therapy, facial feminization and at the end of 2014, Badler had vaginoplasty, male to female surgery, in California.

“When you became Danielle, what happened to Richard?” Walsh asked.

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(credit: Danielle Badler)

“He went away. He went away. He doesn’t exist,” explained Badler.

Badler says the people she loves have gradually come around.

“My younger daughter, for my birthday in January this year, gave me earrings and that was a big step,” she said.

Badler took a leap and has never looked back.

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(credit: CBS)

“I am. This is me. It’s a wonderful thing,” she said with a smile.

Denver Health is preparing to be the only hospital in the region to offer gender reassignment surgery. More than a hundred patients have already expressed interest.

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(credit: CBS)

“There has never been a better time,” said Badler, “For better or worse, Caitlyn Jenner had a lot to do with that. It’s great that Denver and Denver Health will be right on the cusp of what’s going on around the country. If you think you can do it, do it. It’s worth it.”

Dr. Marci Bowers operated on Badler in California. Bowers trained in Trinidad, Colorado and is the first transgender woman to perform gender reassignment surgeries. She is considered the “unquestioned leader” in gender reassignment surgery and is training a surgeon at Denver Health.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 since 1984. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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