Gender Confirmation Surgery Cost and Funding Guide

| 6 min read Fundraising Strategy

Have you ever wondered about how to raise money for gender confirmation surgery? If you’ve decided to publicly transition your gender presentation, there are many ways you can do so. Transitioning is different for everyone, but hormone and gender confirmation surgery, in particular, can be very costly. Even processes such as securing legal documents that fit your true gender identity can incur costs.

Although there is no concrete understanding of the number of transgender people in Australia, it is estimated to be very close to the prevalence that New Zealand sees – around one in every six people. If you live with gender dysphoria, the diagnosis where your mind doesn’t match your birth gender, this article will give you an idea of how fundraising might be able to help you in your transitioning journey.

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Health insurance coverage for gender confirmation surgery

If you’re planning to start medical procedures for transition, a first step is taking a serious look at your financial situation. With or without insurance, sex reassignment surgeries (SRS) and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are not cheap. Though some insurance plans will cover them, it’s completely dependent on the provider and your plan type. Medicare also cover some treatments. Looking into what options are available, your savings account and your next 5-10 year financial forecast should be the first step in all transitions.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

HRT is the first step for many in their transition journey. Testosterone is taken by transgender men, while estrogen is taken by transgender women. Hormones can be taken by pill, patch, pellet, or injection. Transgender men can expect to pay around $140 for a 10-14 week dose, and transgender women look to pay at least $600 per year. Since hormones are necessary for the body to function, this is a cost that transgender people can expect to pay for the rest of their lives.

Therapist and psychologist appointments

Before deciding to proceed with any varying degree of gender confirmation surgery, transgender people are expected to have received an official diagnosis of gender dysphoria from their doctor, and have received counselling about what a transition would look like. With the average costs of a session coming in around $260 (according to the 2019-2020 Australian Psychological Society fee schedule), bi-weekly or even monthly appointments can quickly add up.

Gender confirmation surgery

After expressing their gender identity, receiving an official diagnosis and completing the required psychological process, transgender people can start looking for surgeons to book appointments for their surgery.

Transgender women (male to female surgery)

For those transitioning from male to female, some insurance companies, and Medicare, may cover the following surgeries:

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

While not all patients want every single surgery, it’s important that they get the surgeries that are most important to them. At the very least, many decide on having the orchiectomy, as that stops their body’s natural production of testosterone. It’s also a less invasive surgery that typically takes less than an hour, with a quick recovery of 2-4 weeks.

Transgender men (female to male surgery)

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 surgery, if not paid for by their insurance. Some insurance companies, and Medicare, may cover the following procedures:

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

These procedures, including the hormone replacement therapy and psychology costs, usually come in around $30,000. This typically includes surgeon and anaesthetist fees, theatre fees, specialist appointments and hospital costs too.

You can use the Commonwealth Ombudsman Private Health resource centre to compare policies for what is covered, or check out the online Medicare Benefits Schedule tool to see what is covered by Medicare.

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 coming out on the internet can be a petrifying moment, many have supportive communities who are more than willing to fund their transition.

Embrace the full spectrum of the opportunity

A crowdfunding fundraiser for gender transition is about more than the money you raise. 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.

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 effective fundraiser storytelling.

Use photos and videos

Another way to make your story feel more personal—and to increase donations—is to use plenty of photos and video. Compelling images help other people share and tell your story through social media. In addition to using photos and video on your fundraiser page, be sure to include them in the updates you post for donors throughout your fundraiser.

Example: Maria shares her history of exploring her gender identity

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 university roommate found women’s clothing in her dresser, she was called hurtful slurs. 13 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 surgery costs.

Start your journey with the support you need

Ready to make the big move? Start your fundraiser today.

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Written by nicola