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Mayla Phoebe de Rezende and Sofia Albuquerck, 19, are the first identical twins in the world to both undergo gender reassignment surgery. 

The two sisters revealed that they "never identified as boys", and their first shower as women was "magical". 

The twins (one of which has their father's surname) underwent a five-hour surgery one day apart at the Transgender Center, Brazil. A clinic in the southeastern Brazilian city of Blumenau, earlier in February. 

According to their surgeon, Dr Jose Carlos Martins, "This is the only reported case in the world of twins, who were presumed to be male at birth, undergoing female gender confirmation surgery together."

As they grew up, the identical pair, Mayla and Sofia, did everything together. In a video-conference interview with AFPA only a week after the surgery, the two young women smiled, joked and shed tears as they opened up about their shared journey.

Mayla, who is studying medicine in Argentina, said, "I always loved my body, but I didn't like my genitalia. I would blow dandelion seeds into the air and wish for God to turn me into a girl."

Mayla revealed that they were consistently monitored by doctors for four years before their operation, and they received hormone treatment. "I advise every trans woman to go through this whole process."

Because only five public hospitals perform the procedure, and the long waiting list, the girls were unable to have the surgery sooner. 

Mayla also opened up about how happy she is embracing her new body. "Before being sedated in hospital, I still could not believe my dream was being fulfilled. When I woke up, I couldn't believe it. It is something that's still sinking in. I no longer feel that discomfort when lying or sitting down. It's a wonderful thing. My first shower after being discharged was magical."

Her sister, Sofia, is more reserved. However, the two has never been more in sync.

Sofia, who's studying civil engineering in Sao Paulo, added, "We live in the most transphobic country in the world."

"At school it was very difficult. Some classmates even threw notebooks at my head," said Mayla.

Last year alone, 175 transgender people were murdered in Brazil. Latin America's largest country is known for a strong culture of machismo and overt homophobia, not least on the part of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

The twins added that they still bear the emotional scars of their difficult childhoods and live in fear of abuse. However, they always had the support of their family.

"Our parents weren't afraid of what we were, they were afraid that people would mistreat us," said Mayla. As a sign of support, their grandfather paid for their surgeries by auctioning off a property he owned to pay the 100,000-reais ($20,000) bill.

Happy Mayla added, "My goal now is to graduate in medicine and buy another house for my grandparents as a way of repaying their gesture." 

As they say, a mother knows best, so did their mother, Mara Lucia da Silva. She said it was "a relief" when her twins came out as trans. "I don't even remember thinking of them as boys. To me, they were always girls. In my heart, I always knew they were girls and that they were suffering. I'm upset with myself for never giving them a doll or a dress, for not making them happier when they were girls." But the twins said their mother was a rock of support.

Mayla said that "Whenever someone did something to us in the street, the first thing we wanted to do was go home and tell our mom, for her to give us a hug. She was like a lioness. She always protected us fiercely."

The twins hope that their story will help sex change operations become more accessible in Brazil.

"There are many trans women who give up because the waiting list is too long in the public health system. There's only one private clinic that carries out the procedure in Blumenau. I'm proud to be a trans woman. I've lived in fear of society for too long. Now I'm asking for respect." 

Sofia added that she believes "God created souls, not bodies," and added that "I want to help people see that we're human beings, too."

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