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Help Vrai stay housed during top surgery recovery

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Hello out there, internet. My name’s Vrai Kaiser. You might’ve seen me credited as a freelance critic on this or that media site, or you might know me as an editor and the daily operations manager at Anime Feminist . It’s not the best paying work, but I’m so proud of the colleagues around me and the work I’m part of, helping to create a space where marginalized fans can talk about works they love in spaces that have often felt hostile. I’m also incredibly lucky to have secured top surgery coverage through Medicaid. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to work for at least three weeks while I recover—which means I won’t be able to pay for my rent or other bills.
What’s Your Financial Situation?

I’ve wanted top surgery since I was 15—well, longer than that, but 15 is about when I realized it was an actual thing that people did. My plan for years was to save up a cushion of money to take care of the surgery and myself. I did just that for over a decade, steadily socking several thousand away all-told. Unfortunately, I ended up needing those savings for other emergencies.

Early in 2021, my partner and I moved out of a living situation with her then-husband, who’d become increasingly emotionally and financially abusive since lockdown began. Doing so required a high degree of secrecy (including literally filling a moving truck in the dead of night), and a lot of money. Several thousand dollars, actually, between renting a truck, finding a new place to live at a time when almost nothing was on the market, and driving back and forth across several state lines. We made it in one piece, but all of our savings were basically obliterated.

Every time we’ve gotten a start on trying to rebuild those savings, another emergency has seemed to come hurtling down the pipe. The car we needed for her to commute (now much further) to her university died, and since public transit wasn’t an option we had to find some way to get a new one. The laptop I use to do my freelance work suffered a catastrophic failure. Our dog required an emergency life-saving vet visit, and somewhere in there each of our several-year-old phones wound up breaking. The threats of retaliation at my day job combined with months of long hours and overwork at both jobs led to a nervous breakdown and collapse in October of this year. It’s all, honestly, a little comical to string together in a row.

Why a GoFundMe?

Like most people who work online, I have a day job that pays most of the actual bills: In my case, it's a service industry position, working as a barista/cashier/etc at a local café and coffee shop.
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do about 90% of the work that job requires as I’m recovering. Patients recovering from top surgery aren’t allowed to lift more than five pounds for several weeks, which encompasses more than you’d think. I'll be banned from handling everything from coffee pots to the lid of an industrial ice machine, and even operating the espresso machine requires jerking motions that would agitate the healing incisions and cause problems.

Because it’s a small place, the general workflow wouldn’t really function with me just standing at a register. Additionally, a catastrophically failed attempt to unionize at this job resulted in threats of police retaliation and one supportive co-worker being fired. I’m still there, because being autistic, trans, and having a vocation that takes a lot of time makes swapping to another place (with bills still incoming) intimidating. Still, it somewhat dissolved the illusion that I could rely on it as a supportive environment. Therefore, the only viable option is to take most of the month off.

My partner, who works two jobs herself, will also have to take a few days off immediately after I have surgery, as I’ll be able to do very little on my own. (Turns out you need your arms for a lot of stuff, most of which weighs more than five pounds!) Neither of us have anything like sick leave. In fact, when the two of us each had to miss two shifts each in December due to severe illness, that alone made it pretty touch-and-go as to whether we would be able to pay the rent.

Any money donated here will go toward paying off immediate and long-term bills: rent, water, gas, electric, phone, internet, food for myself and my partner, and food for our dog and two cats. My hope is that I’ll be able to add to this by getting back to work from home at Anime Feminist as soon as possible.

Why Not Wait and Save Up?

Honestly, I’m scared to. With all the moving around and the fact that my build is fairly short, stocky, and muscular, it took years to find a surgeon who was willing and able to do my surgery. Even as I type this, I’m terrified that someone will email me to say they discovered there’d been a mistake and my surgery is called off after all. I’m even more afraid that if things go badly in November, my legal rights to seek surgery safely might be in question. Some days, looking forward to this kind of feels like the only thing getting me through.

I have trouble asking for help, both because of the ‘lone cowboy’ mentality instilled by my Wyoming upbringing (where suicide is among the leading causes of death in adults) and because I’m keenly aware that there are a lot of people out there in need of help right now. But I’m not sure what else to do. After almost three years of keeping my head above water, this seems like the thing that will sink not just me but also my loved ones if I don’t ask for help.

Please, if I’ve given you any joy over the years, if you have it to spare, it would mean the world—even if that just means sharing the link to this with those you know. I’ve wanted this surgery for more than half my life, and I want to be able to celebrate it as something joyous without feeling terrified that taking this opportunity will cost me my home.

Thank you so much for reading. In payment for your time, please enjoy our silly pets.


  • Anonymous
    • $25 
    • 3 mos
  • Cat Bascle
    • $20 
    • 5 mos
  • Sander Heutink
    • $100 
    • 5 mos
  • Dylan Hoover
    • $100 
    • 5 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $500 
    • 5 mos


Vrai Kaiser
Philadelphia, PA

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