The Ultimate Fundraising Guide for Gender Confirmation Surgery

Person holding a trans flag
| 7 min read Fundraising Strategy

While transitioning is different for everyone, many transgender people can begin to feel more at peace with themselves, both mentally and physically, once they start transitioning. One of the biggest challenges, though, is the high cost of gender confirmation surgery and hormone therapy. If you’ve been thinking about how to pay for gender confirmation surgery and need some help, this guide will help you navigate what financial options are available to you. 

Gender affirmation surgery vs. gender confirmation surgery

The terms gender affirmation surgery and gender confirmation surgery are used interchangeably. This surgery is done so individuals with gender dysphoria can transition to their true gender. A transgender man, woman, or non-binary person can undergo the procedure. There are two types of transitioning: social transitioning and medical transitioning. Social transitioning involves taking on a new name and pronouns, etc., while medical transitioning involves hormone replacement therapy and/or surgery to remove or modify certain body parts and organs. It’s important to note that transgender individuals do not need to have surgery in order to have valid identities. 

Health insurance coverage for gender transition

If you’re wondering, “What is gender confirmation surgery going to cost?” or “What will hormone replacement therapy cost?” then the first place to start is with your health insurance coverage. With or without insurance, sex reassignment surgery (SRS) and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) aren’t cheap. Though many insurance plans are starting to cover both, it’s completely dependent on the provider and your plan type, so it’s a good idea to start by finding out exactly what they cover. 

Gender confirmation surgery costs

TRANSGENDER WOMEN (MALE TO FEMALE SURGERIES)

For those transitioning from male to female, health care coverage typically cover the following surgeries:

  • Clitoroplasty
  • Labiaplasty
  • Orchiectomy
  • Penectomy
  • Urethroplasty
  • Vaginoplasty

These surgeries strictly focus on the genitals, so any other surgeries like a breast augmentation or facial feminization surgery would need to be paid for out of pocket. The cost of facial feminization surgery done by a plastic surgeon can be up to $51,000, while the cost of breast augmentation surgery can be anywhere from $3,300 to $9,775.

While not all patients want every single gender reassignment surgery, it’s important that they get the surgeries that are most important to them. If not covered by insurance, many decide on only having the orchiectomy, as that stops your body’s natural production of testosterone. It’s also a less invasive surgery that typically takes less than an hour, while recovery takes several weeks.

TRANSGENDER MEN (FEMALE TO MALE SURGERIES)

When transitioning from female to male, the most common surgery is top surgery or a bilateral mastectomy. This allows transgender men to express their gender identity while still having time to save for their gender confirmation surgery, if not paid for by their insurance. As an example, United Healthcare covers the following surgeries:

  • Hysterectomy
  • Metoidioplasty
  • Penile prosthesis
  • Phalloplasty
  • Salpingo-oophorectomy
  • Scrotoplasty
  • Testicular prosthesis 
  • Urethroplasty
  • Vaginectomy

Consider crowdfunding your gender transition

When insurance policies seem to change on a regular basis, crowdfunding sites like GoFundme are an option that many turn to during their transition. While being vulnerable on the internet may seem intimidating, many have supportive communities that are more than willing to fund their procedures. For a transgender person, surgery can be a long process when the cost of procedures is very high. So, providing extra financial support for their procedures will allow them to receive their reassignment surgery much quicker.

A fundraiser is an opportunity to connect

A fundraiser for gender transition is about more than the money you raise for your sex reassignment surgery. It’s an opportunity for you to tell your story, connect with people, and receive support from friends, family, and community members—even from strangers around the world who might also be going through gender confirmation surgery.

To see others who have started fundraisers to pay for transition, visit GoFundMe’s gender-affirming care fundraising page. Or, take a look at our medical crowdfunding guide for more ideas. 

5 tips for gender-confirmation surgery fundraising 

1. Build bridges with your transition story

Any successful fundraiser starts with honest storytelling. Telling your story requires courage and authenticity, but always put your safety and privacy first. By telling your story with clarity and heart, you inspire compassion and understanding.

Think about how you frame your story. In books and movies, people care about characters who want something badly and are having (challenging yet surmountable) trouble getting it. Don’t be afraid to show your flaws: People often feel a greater connection to imperfect characters who are doing their best under extreme circumstances. For more tips on telling compelling stories that inspire others to give, take a look at our blog post on writing a fundraiser story.

2. Use photos and videos if you feel comfortable

Another way to make your story feel more personal—and to increase donations—is to use plenty of images and video. Compelling images also help other people share and tell your story through social media. In addition to using photos and videos on your fundraiser page, be sure to include them in the updates you post for donors throughout your gender confirmation surgery fundraiser. While photos and videos are a good way to engage people with your story, being vulnerable in sharing these things can be tough so only share if you feel comfortable in doing so. 

Example of a gender-affirming fundraiser using video: Maria Needs Your Help

Like many who struggle with body dysphoria, Maria had a history of questioning who she was, and if there was something wrong with her. After her college roommate found women’s clothing in her dresser, she was called hurtful slurs. Thirteen years and many therapy appointments later, Maria is excited to take the next step in her transition through gender confirmation surgery. Though insurance covers part of it, Maria leaned on her community by creating a GoFundMe to cover the remainder of the transgender surgery costs, raising over $16,000.

3. Share your fundraiser with family and friends

One of the best things you can do to make sure you get as many donations as possible is to share your fundraiser near and far. It can be hard to ask for help, but know that your family and friends want to support you. Start by sharing your fundraiser with people you know, and ask if they can share it with their networks to gain even more support. Additionally, share your fundraiser on social media and through email to reach a wider community of people who want to help and cheer you on.

4. Post fundraiser updates to keep supporters in the loop

Your donors will want to know how the money raised is helping and how you’re doing post-surgery. Keep them involved during your transitioning process by posting frequent fundraiser updates. If you need extra help with posting updates, consider asking a close friend or relative to write them for you. Updates can include things such as letting your supporters know if you need additional funds and posting a final update once you choose to end your fundraiser.

5. Thank your donors for their support

Taking the time to thank your supporters is a little gesture that goes a long way. Show your appreciation for their support by sending thank-you messages. Thank-you messages could also result in repeat donations. Check out our blog for tips on crafting a thoughtful donation thank you letter. Additionally, showing gratitude doesn’t only have to be through thank you letters. From planting a tree to creating handmade gifts, take a look at other creative ways to say thank you to donors.

Start your gender reassignment surgery journey today

A gender-affirming surgery is a way to help you live authentically and feel safe. While the cost of gender reassignment surgery is high, online fundraising through GoFundMe is a way you can find a supportive community that wants to help. When you find surgery assistance through GoFundMe, you’ll also find a space that welcomes your transition and believes in you.

Written by Brittany Armas

I believe we all have the power to make a difference. Through informative and heartfelt content, I hope to create change and inspire others to give back to those who need it most.