Molly's Medical Debt

Hi! My name is Molly, and I am trans. Ever since I was like, seven years old I've kinda known I was trans and at age 24 I decided it was finally time to do something about it. What followed was probably the most hectic (and expensive!) two years of my life.

I live in Australia, which has social healthcare and  it is, in general, pretty dope - but it has a big mental healthcare blindspot and even bigger transgender healthcare blindspot. Being trans is expensive; there are psychiatric evaluations and pills on pills on pills and hair removal and a new wardrobe to concsider and it goes on and on. I was able to afford all this, mostly, but it was a struggle and I lived (and continue to live) very lean. 

For every partial rebate or bulk billed procedure I was able to secure for specialist appointments there would be two more costs I'd just have to swallow. Hair removal wasn't covered, neither was vocal surgery (though speech pathology was, mostly). Psychiatry was covered but only up to 60 or 70 percent of the cost - which would be fine, if the cost of out-patient psychiatric services didn't regularly costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars. I would regularly dip into my quote-unquote Bills Account to cover short falls in every day living. The few occassions I convinced myself I should have a credit card were a disaster.

It was Gender Reassignment Surgery that really broke me though. I had the procedure done in Australia because I was kinda terrified of having it done overseas. I live in Brisbane and the surgeon was based in Sydney so after a few flights down for (expensive) consults I was given a figure on what the surgery was gonna cost me:

$29 000

That's a lot of money for anybody to pay, but even more for someone living hand to mouth. At the time I had private health care, which would cover the hospital stay (and even then only after a lot of hand-wringing) but of that 29k the government was gonna stump up maybe 2.5 and even then only after I had paid for the operation in its entirety first. I was undaunted though; the surgery wasn't really a 'nice to have' for me. So I got a loan.

I was already in debt so I rolled that debt and this big new figure into one mega loan and called it a day. There were a tense few weeks where I had to resist the urge to spend the thousands of dollars sitting idly in my bank on black pearl earrings but I made it through and on December 9th, 2014 I marked the end of my transition in Sydney. My parents came down to see me into the theatre, and my anesthetist was an angel sent from heaven and everything went pretty great. I spent a few weeks recovering and then went back to living my life, a new woman.

That was over two years ago. In that time I've lived a lot...I've dated and I've had panic attacks and I've spent a hell of a lot of time with my psychologist and psychiatrist unpacking issues I had conveniently shelved while transitioning that flared up like a supernova once I had past that place in my life. After a lot of therapy and time I've finally got to a place where my depression isn't running so riot and my anxiety is largely under control and I'm largely stable. It's also given me some perspective, and with fresh eyes I'm realising that hey - I'd really like to go to school. Not just to be like, a business major or anything equally humourless, but as a psychologist, to help treat people going through a lot of the same awful stuff I have. But there is a problem.

Debt. $37,909 of debt.

The cost of transitioning was insane, and it's still insane. I have done the maths, and I can live mean and lean, but every time I try to consider seriously taking on study my massive amount of debt brings me screaming me back down to earth. I need to be able to produce $210 a week to pay back my re-re-financed loan and while I can save as much as I can I'm worried that I'll never be able to save enough. I've been trying to pay off this loan for two and a half years and in that time the cost of living with such a huge chunk of your pay packet going missing has actually somehow increased the loan. It is my own personal hell. That's where you can help!

The Australian government failed me and brought me to this place but you can help get me out of it: by donating just a little you could make my life a whole lot simpler. Every donation will go directly to paying off the massive figure I currently owe the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and if even a few hundred people chipped a buck or two in I would feel so much relief and be one step further from bankruptcy. I want to study and become more than I am, and have begun the processing of applying for university placement already. I sat the STAT and got 99th percentile so odds are pretty great! I really wanna make this work - and I'm gonna make this work come hell or high water - but I would really appreciate some help from anybody willing to offer it.

Thanks for your time. <3

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Molly Speechley 
Sunnybank, QLD
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