Two years ago Frankie Edroff had an epiphany.
Edroff began reflecting on his life, what he had accomplished over the years and was trying to figure out who he was.
Known then around the country as Jeneece, Vancouver Island’s “Penny Girl,” said something felt off in his personal life. He admits he never felt like a “girly-girl,” preferred playing video games over Barbie dolls, and growing up always wished he was a boy. That’s when he realized he was transgender.
“It was like an epiphany, I felt free,” said the now 24-year-old Saanich resident. “My life is better mentally and physically in a sense. Now, I don’t really have to hide. I’m still the same person, I’m just who I am now.”
Edroff was just three years old when he was diagnosed with a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis that causes tumours to grow on nerve tissue.
Since then, Edroff has collected more than $1.5 million in pennies for Variety, the Children’s Charity. With the help of community partners, the fundraising phenom also raised $6.5 million to open Jeneece Place at Victoria General Hospital – a home where children and their families can stay while receiving medical care.
After coming out to family and friends recently, Frankie now hopes to inspire others with his story.
“It’s about other people who want to come out to their families and friends if they’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc, that they shouldn’t be afraid,” he said, adding he hopes other parents will be supportive of their children’s decisions to come out.
“If your child does come out as one of those things be respectful, be supportive. This is 2018. We have pride week, pride month and you should be proud of your kid because they’re still the same person.”
Up next, Frankie will continue with school and travel, and will “continue being me.”