We don’t often hear heartwarming stories come from college fraternities, but this past month Emerson College changed all that. Donnie Collins, a transgender student at Emerson College and member of the Alpha Chapter of Phi Alpha Tau, discovered his medical insurance wouldn’t pay for his female-to-male Top Surgery – this surgery would help him further his transition.
Top Surgery is a double mastectomy to remove the breast tissue in the chest, and flattens it.
By getting the surgery, Collins will no longer have to wear “binding,” or layers of clothes, to hold in his chest and try and hide it. “I wear restricting girdles that compress my chest to make it flat so people would never know I have a chest,” said Collins. “It’s the biggest thing left about my body that makes me uncomfortable.” Collins said wearing bindings for too long is dangerous and puts the body at risk, while wearing layers can be difficult. “I am so excited to just wear one shirt and not five layers,” he said. (via)
When the members of his fraternity discovered this, they stepped in to raise the funds for the surgery. The members created an Indiegogo project to raise the money to cover all costs. From the project page:
We are a group of individuals brought together through our fraternity and we are here for one reason: to support the brothers of our organization. Yesterday we were informed that one of our active brothers, a transgender female to male, was denied the opportunity to receive financial support from his insurance for top surgery.
We are now trying to raise that money for him. We are doing this as individuals in an organization rallying around another individual. This endeavor is not being sponsored by the organization as a whole, rather the active members within it.
We care deeply about each and everyone, and rely on the entire active brotherhood to stand behind any one individual when they are in need.
Since the inception of the fund, the Indiegogo project has surpassed the goal of paying for Donnie’s surgery. As of the publishing of this post, the fund has raised over $20,000 and the fraternity has decided to donate all excess money to the Jim Collins Foundation.
From the onset, though, the Fraternity has maintained “We are here less to raise money, and more to tell a story. The story of transformation, and story of self-discovery, and the story of brotherhood.”
UPDATE: Collins posted a statement to his Indiegogo fundraising page on Wednesday night explaining that he received “very unexpected news regarding his insurance claim.” Collins reports that his insurance will be covering most of the cost of his breast removal procedure, except for $2,000 needed for his co-pay, travel and care expenses. He says the rest of the money the fraternity raised (about $18,000) will be going to the Jim Collins Foundation, a charity that provides financial assistance for transgender patients. In a video Collins posted on YouTube last night, he said, “It’s been a really incredible experience…I honestly couldn’t be happier with the way things are turning out. Also, the Ironman 3 trailer came out! Which I’m super excited about.” (via MotherJones)
Image via BostInno