Scared black and trans woman moving to Iowa

Hello and thank you for taking the time to visit this page. My name is Demi Feathers and I am a black transgender woman. I began my transition 6 years ago and currently live as a woman with my life partner. Both my partner and I have always been full time workers and play by the rules but-we have a problem, we can't break even and in order to overcome this cycle of poverty, (national average is $12.5k, California average is $58k-not even kidding) we need to move and it gets a bit complicated

Some background:

I was born in the SF Bay area and currently live in Vallejo-30 minutes outside the city and it is as affordable as it gets. My mother did her best to raise me on her own but has always struggled with addiction and I ended up in foster care at a young age. In short, I did not have the positive role models I needed to prepare for an adult life. Up until my 23rd birthday, I had no idea the skills I needed to cultivate a healthy adulthood.

Since my partner and I met, I have grown so much and realized how much more there is to life, but honey-this ain't it. After 3 years of buckling down and working hard, we are drowning and cannot afford to live here any longer. Rent continues to go up and prices on everything around us follow the trend. Add to it a few catastrophic events, and it goes from stable to damage control for months.

For example: Our car was absolutely totaled 6 months ago when we had to cut our insurance back to the most basic liability while my partner was between jobs-a vehicle we had 9 months, that we still owe 11k on and have not missed a payment. 2 guys drag racing on the interstate, someone gets cut off and before you know it, we are in the middle of a pileup. No one stopped, everyone just drove off. We were stuck on the interstate with the airbags popped. And that was it 10k in damage. We don't even know what to do with the car as we can't sell it. Now we rely on a carpool to get to and from work but have no other form of transportation. Since we live outside of the train system here we are limited in how we are able to move around. Just the other day, our carpool driver was sick and we had to use public transport to work, the bus didn't show up and we had to Uber to the train. When we get off work at 12:30 am the train system is no longer running here, (apparently no one works after midnight in the bay?) and we had to Uber home-just one day of travel was $90. That was not the first time, but these things happen.

It often feels as though, if one simple thing goes wrong, it throws everything we work for off balance. One step forward, three steps back. We both have amazing work ethic, I know I have brought pride to my partner and surprised myself with the fortitude and determination I have displayed over the past years. It seems crazy that life here is so unstable. We work decent jobs, above minimum wage at $18 an hour. Yet we struggle to find any sort of security here.

After the latest upheaval, (to mention another chaotic incident) involving our bank getting a levy on the account over a missed payment due to a paperwork error at our work, closely followed by a dock on my partner's paycheck for a ticket we didn't even know we had and are now contesting, (that is a total of $1000-all our savings for the new car we need) we have had enough. It is time to move. My partner and I have found reliable job opportunities in Iowa where we will be starting at 41.5k a year each-up from our current 25k each, and living in an area 35% cheaper. We have a friend there that is putting us up in their place until we get our own. The rest of our plan is to stay for 2 years, pay off our debt, save up some money and look for new opportunities - hopefully back home here in the bay where we can transfer our job. 

The issue is that while I can barely handle my body dysmorphia in the liberal SF Bay area, my partner and I am terrified of moving into rural Iowa as a black trans woman. My voice is noticeably deep and my facial surgeries have not been done. We have insurance and are constantly cutting our budget to build the savings we need, but at the end of the month, we are lucky to have more than an extra $100 things are so tight. We are constantly one random act of tragedy away from losing our home, and honestly there is nothing left in our budget to realistically cut. 

We have wanted to make our own way. I wanted to work for my own insurance and surgeries - but living here is a dead end. I am no closer to my goals now than I was 3 years ago. I can't even fathom a way for me to make this happen without quitting my job and going on medi-cal and general assistance. And then where am I? Living in a shelter even further from opportunities that could improve myself? Neither I nor my partner have family to rely on. Mix in my dysmorphia, his PTSD, and the depressions we are prone to when everything we try and create just falls apart in front of us, it is soul crushing. It is terrible and it's time to leave. It is time to create something new, somewhere else. This is my home and I will miss it, but I have to go. 

So here we are, at the end of my story. There is no way we can afford to move, and I can't move until I have at least those 2 main surgeries. Without them there is NO way I can do it, I will go homeless first. I am literally scared for my life in Iowa without them. All I want is the opportunity to create my life in a meaningful way. To have a chance to flourish. We want children and to own a home someday! The type of life we are living now is just a complete waste of human potential. I just think of how many others are going through the same thing.

Here is what I am going to do - Full transparency. As we collect information on upcoming costs we will be providing all quotes and receipts so that you know your contribution is being used in the way you intend it to.

Second, as the total costs become more clear, we will be adjusting the amount needed (we expect it to be lower) and any left over funds will be donated to a charity supporting trans women and struggling families in the bay area.

Third, if anyone has any ideas on ways we can improve our current situation before we are able to go, please share them with us!

Our current state of finances are as follows:

Monthly Income for 2 after taxes: $4,000

-Budget for 2-
Rent: $1400
Food: $600
Utilities: $400
Medication: $100
Household Items/Hygiene: $100
Car Payment: $320
Travel: $400
Insurance: $300
Child Support: $250

Total: $3,870

-The current cost of-

Moving estimation:

Moving Truck: $2,000 - $2,500 (if we have to tow the wrecked car to IA)
Gas: $800
2 nights in a hotel: $200

Surgery Cost:
UCLA offers both the vocal and facial feminization surgery and has about a 3 month wait list. Average facial feminization surgery is $25k from what I see on reviews, and the vocal surgery is between $6k-9k. 

What we do know is, insurance will cover: In network/in state - $500 deductible and %30 of the surgery. From what my insurance is saying to me, unless I have polyps or some other condition, these surgeries are considered electable, hence the cost.

Now if I can get away with just paying my deductible and having a payment plan for the remaining amount, then I am only asking for deductible, travel expenses, and moving costs. I wish I could be more precise in my estimation, but I won't know more until I have the in person consultation.

Estimated Goal:

Best case scenario- In state surgery, covered by insurance, minimal use of hotels and travel, +moving cost:
approx $5,000

Worst case- $25,000-$28,000

These are really *rough* estimates to be clear. I have no idea how much each procedure will cost until I have more consultations..

Thank you for reading and please share. I look forward to updating all of you with our progress!


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Demi De Vill
Vallejo, CA

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