It took Emerson College sophomore Donnie Collins 17 years to realize he wanted a sex-change. Though he was born a girl, Collins came out as transgender while living at an all-girls school.
Now 20 years of age, he had one final step to become the man he wanted to be: gender reassignment top surgery, which removes the breasts of women looking to become men. But the treatment is costly (the price runs around $8,100), and his insurance refused to pay for it. That was where Collins’ fraternity came in to help.
Collins had recently joined the Phi Alpha Tau frat at Emerson. His new brothers heard about his financial trouble, and raised $16,000 on the crowd-funding site IndieGoGo. The money will go toward Collins’ surgery, scheduled to take place in May. The remainder of the proceeds will go to Jim Collins Foundation, which helps people pay for gender-realignment surgery.
"It's been such a long road, and it has been life-altering to find support and brotherhood," said Collins in a press release Wednesday. "From my time in the transgender youth group, which introduced me to some of my best friends, to my brothers at Emerson and everyone who has given to this fundraising campaign, the support I have received has made such a difference in my life."
Collins had an insurance plan through Emerson College. The plan considers any gender realignment surgery as cosmetic surgery rather than necessary surgery. The provision is meant to prevent the college from paying for students’ breast implants and nose jobs; Collins petitioned the college to begin covering expenses for necessary transgender surgeries, but his claim was denied.
"It wasn't the least bit surprising to me that Donnie was admitted going into the pledge, and that they would take him as a member," Jason Meir, director of student activities at Emerson, told ABCNews. "Our fraternities are very open and affirming, and really are just accepting of all people and all types."
Collins still has an insurance plan through the school.