Gender Confirmation Surgery Costs And Fundraising Guide

| 6 min read Fundraising Strategy

Transitioning is different for everyone. It’s important that transgender people take the necessary steps to feel confident in themselves, mentally and physically. With the overwhelming majority of the population being cisgender, it’s important to prioritize health care, mental health, and self-care for trans folks. Approximately 75,000 Canadians aged 15 are transgender, and the costs of transitioning can be astronomical. 

If you’ve decided to publicly transition your gender presentation, there are many ways you can do so. Some of them, including hormones and gender confirmation surgery, can be quite costly; even processes such as securing legal documents that fit your current gender identity can incur costs.

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Health insurance coverage for gender transition

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 many insurance plans are starting to cover both, it’s completely dependent on the provider and your plan type. Looking into your insurance plan, 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, which varies depending on the insurance provider (if any). Without insurance, transgender men can expect to pay from $40 to $500 per month, and transgender women may pay at least $1,500 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 psychiatrist appointments

Before deciding to proceed with any varying degree of gender confirmation surgery, transgender people are required to receive two separate notes from a psychiatrist and a therapist confirming their desire to transition. With average costs from $80 for a therapist and $200 to $375+ for a psychiatrist without insurance, bi-weekly or even monthly appointments can quickly add up.

Gender confirmation surgery

After expressing their gender identity for 12+ months and receiving all necessary doctor’s notes indicating that the surgery is “medically necessary,” 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, insurance companies 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. Full facial feminization surgery can cost up to $52,500, while a breast augmentation can be anywhere from three to upwards of nine thousand dollars.

While not all patients want every single 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, and recovery is expected in 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. As an example, United Healthcare covers the following surgeries:

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

After having top surgery, many transgender men have a hysterectomy and oophorectomy so they can lower their dose of HRT, which lowers the annual cost of hormones as well.

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 also 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 college 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.

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

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Written by caitlin