News broke yesterday of one trans man's gratitude for his fraternity brothers, who have raised $16,000 to pay for his sex reassignment surgery. Donnie Collins, 20, is a sophomore Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. A member of Phi Alpha Tau fraternity, Collins learned soon after his admission that his insurance company would not cover the cost of his gender reassignment. In response, his fraternity brothers decided to raise the amount needed themselves. Phi Alpha Tau Chapter President Jon Allen stated that "[w]e see Donnie as a brother and we want to support him in this endeavor."
Transgender is a broad sociological term which indicates a person's gender identity or self-perceived gender differs from their anatomical sex. Some trans men and women adopt a presentation consistent with their gender identity without undergoing sex reassignment surgery. Those with severe gender dysphoria, or a "personal distress over their gender incongruity," are given the recommendation to undergo sex reassignment surgery, to give their anatomy characteristics consistent with the opposite sex. Those who are in transition or who have completed gender reassignment are typically designated medically as transsexual. For transsexual men, the process of gender reassignment may include hormone replacement therapy, hysterectomy and genital reconstruction (specifically, a phalloplasty). Collins has explained he is only seeking to have his breast tissue removed, stating that the "operation is a double incision which is removing my breast tissue so that my chest will be flat. I don't think of it as a sex change but making my body congruent with how I see myself." Although procedures related to gender reassignment are considered by the psychiatric and medical community to be essential to transgender and transsexual health care, many health insurance companies refuse to cover the cost.
Collins has stated that he is "overwhelmed" and very grateful for all of the support the has received. Activities director Jason Meier reported that Emerson has always fostered an environment of inclusiveness for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students. Collins's procedure is reported to cost $8,100. The remaining funds, according to Phi Alpha Tau,
"will be donated to the Jim Collins Foundation, an organization that helps 'fund gender-confirming surgeries for transgender people'."