Top Chop: Release the Twins

(There is a lot of info here, but please bear with me. If you'd rather just give and dash, the reward buttons are at the very bottom.)

Greetings for Router Space!

My name is Winter Laike (aka Johnny B. Tender), and I have created this campaign to raise money to assist me in the journey to obtain gender-affirming chest reconstruction surgery. I am a transgender guy (female-to-male/FTM) who just wants to get a few things off his chest. You know...do the ol’ top chop, put the twins up for adoption, turn my lemons into lemonade, or whatever terrible metaphor you want to use. I have completed a consultation with Dr. Daniel Medalie in Cleveland, OH, and I am currently scheduled to have chest reconstruction surgery on October 30.

You may know me as the human behind Anti-Oppressive Baby Animals, the goofy guy that brings the treats to the queer outings, Original Plumbing Magazine’s 2013 Mr. Trans Man (NY), or you may not know me at all. Even if you don’t know me as a person, my situation probably isn’t unfamiliar to you.

The beginning of my gender transition marked something much more important than taking steps towards more body hair or a deeper voice or muscle growth. When I first started using exclusively male pronouns, I began treating myself better. I had always been so quick to put someone else’s needs before my own, even if that meant my own needs would go unfulfilled. Eventually, I started to lose sight of my own needs. While I still take time to be present for my friends and family, I have been more conscious about making time for myself and taking the steps necessary to achieve my goals—which includes having a body that reflects my gender identity.

I need top surgery for my own mental health and physical health, including my safety. I won’t get super into it here as this “summary” is already quite long (perhaps I will elsewhere in the near future and post a link to it if anyone is actually interested). While transitioning from female to male and almost exclusively being perceived as male comes with privilege (of which I am very aware), there is something to be said about now being seen as a young, black man and the weight that is carried with that identity.

I have health insurance. I have privilege in having a job that offers partially paid health insurance. However, like most folks, my health insurance specifically excludes this gender-affirming surgery. Most private and public insurance plans explicitly exclude coverage for transition-related healthcare when prescribed for transgender people, even though the very same treatments may be covered for non-transgender people who have other conditions. For example, a plan might cover a double mastectomy for a woman who is at a high risk for breast cancer, but not for a female-to-male transgender man for whom a double mastectomy (i.e. masculinization of the chest) would be gender-affirming. Such categorical exclusions in insurance policies – ones that specifically single out transgender people as not being eligible for coverage of treatment that is medically necessary to them – are blatantly discriminatory, and yet extremely common. This means that even though the surgeon Dr. Medalie is in-network with my insurance plan, the surgery will not be covered based on this broad and discriminatory policy exclusion.

The extra little punch in the gut is that I work for an LGBT organization. I spend my time serving LGBT youth at an organization that has no interest in serving my medical needs. I even participated in the committee to choose new plans during the open enrollment period. Ultimately, my efforts were fruitless and disregarded in a pretty insulting way.


WINTER, WHY A CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN?

I am asking the community for support because it serves the community to hold each other up when systems let us down. The system should pay for this and doesn’t. This serves us all communally because a strong community supports the health and safety of individual members.

It took me a while to finally decide to do a crowdfunding campaign. I have a lot of complicated feelings about asking for financial assistance, especially from communities in which a lot of people are trying to achieve the same goals and there is not a lot of disposable income laying around. Individuals close to me encouraged me to start one because there are folks out there who really want to help and may have the means. Plus, we’re really into supporting each other. I came to terms with this and am putting this out there but with one condition: I will not ask for something without giving something in return.

This is not the only fundraising effort. I have been working and saving up money to go towards this life-changing event. Because my full-time job is only enough to cover my regular living expenses, I took on additional work through means such as TaskRabbit. Some of the jobs I have done include: shoveling snow; helping people move; handwriting 75+ thank you notes for newlyweds; hand-addressing and stuffing 450+ envelopes; hand-writing 12,000+ labels; individually weighing 4,500+ product packages for a snack company; assembling 200 product kits for an electronic toy company; so, so many deliveries (carried my size equivalent of Girl Scout cookies, BBQ, cupcakes, flowers, coffee, Insomnia Cookies at 1am, beer, donuts, Shake Shack, etc); edited copy for websites; created newsletters; played shows; competed in a pageant (and won!); regularly cleaned an AirBnB apartment; cleaned an apartment post–BBQ belonging to two douchetastic bro-dudes full of beer bottles, cigarette butts, and remnants of drugs; walked dogs; and practically gave up my social life. TaskRabbit has since changed the way they function, which makes it really difficult for me to get work in the way that I did before. I’m in a bit of a time crunch, so I am asking for assistance.


WINTER, HOW DID YOU PICK YOUR CAMPAIGN GOAL? WHERE IS THE MONEY GOING?

I chose the campaign goal based on the amount of money I would need to have surgery. I have listed a breakdown of the fees below. To date, I have saved $6,050 towards surgery, so I am looking to raise $2,898. I need to have to surgery fees paid in full two weeks prior to surgery, so I hope to reach my goal by October 10. In addition to the actual costs, I have added some monthly living expenses as I will be out of work during recovery and the amount required to make up for the fees that GoFundMe and WePay will take.

Surgery (includes surgeon’s fee, anesthesia, hospital fee, and insurance): $6399
Airfare for 2: $520 ($260 each)
AirBnB for 10 days: $794
Food: $200
Local transportation (cab fare): $120
Post-surgical supplies (compression vest and medication): $50
Surgery recovery supplies (shirts, pants, straws, neck pillow, etc): $100
TOTAL SURGERY EXPENSES: $8,183

Rent & Utilities: $400
Therapy: $150
TOTAL POST-SURGERY EXPENSES: $550

TOTAL EXPENSES: $8,733 (minus the $6,050 already saved) = $2,683
GoFundMe and WePay fees on $2,683 (8%): $215

CAMPAIGN GOAL: $2,898

The travel expenses are an estimate based on the research I did. I am leaning towards an AirBnB situation over a hotel room so I would have more privacy, a kitchen to make meals and potentially save on food costs, and it would be cheaper per night. I haven’t booked a flight or room yet as I am still trying to secure a travel companion. I will make updates to the campaign if those figures change.

If this campaign raises more money than the set goal, the funds will be used to cover the fees for changing the gender marker on my legal documents and be forwarded to other individuals who are saving for their gender-affirming care.


WINTER, I DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY TO DONATE, BUT I WANT TO HELP. WHAT CAN I DO?

I appreciate your support in every way. If you want to help, but you don’t have money to contribute, there are other ways you can help:

1) Spread the word! Share this with your circles. You never know if you know someone who has the means to help financially or if you have a friend of a friend of a friend who lives in Cleveland who can bring me a meal or pick me up from the airport.
2) If you have a service/talent/connection that you would like to add to the list of rewards, let me know. The more, the merrier!
3) Donate supplies for the trip. There are some things I should be bringing on the trip with me. Maybe you have some old snap-button shirts you don’t wear anymore? Items include: comfortable pants (pjs & sweatpants, men’s medium), snap-button shirts (men’s small), bendy straws, neck pillow. I will also accept airline miles!
4) Advocate for trans-inclusive healthcare. Ask your employer about the insurance coverage for its transgender employees. Can your transgender coworker access their hormones or gender-affirming surgery? Are the cisgender employees able to access care that would be denied for someone who is transgender? If the answer is yes, change that! Just because you may not be affected by your organization’s decisions does not mean that your coworker isn’t. A lot of insurance policies are inherently discriminatory, and you should encourage your organization to make sure that they are providing their employees equal care and upholding the values of the organization even in the fine print (especially if you work for an LGBT organization because c’mon now).

If you have any questions/comments/concerns/stories/confessions/grocery lists, feel free to email me at johnnybtender [at] gmail [dot] com.


***THE REWARDS***

VIRTUAL HI-FIVE ($5)
You’ll get a shout out and a virtual hi-five! Maybe we’ll even make up our own virtual handshake...

SNAIL MAIL! ($10)
You'll receive a handwritten thank you on a custom postcard!

PATCHES! ($15) - 40 AVAILABLE
You'll get a 5" patch hand-screened by yours truly. Options my include: "All of the Feels", "Feelings Inside", "Ask Me About My Feelings", "Butch Sissy", "sissy", "Power Bottom", "Daddy's Handsome Boy", "tenderqueer", "dandy", or make a special request!
(Expected delivery: 2-3 weeks)

WINTRY MIX! ($20) – 50 AVAILABLE
You’ll get a blizzard of tunes picked by me, placed on a decorated CD, and delivered to you! You can choose from a bedroom dance party mix or a romantically-themed mix.
(Expected delivery: 2-3 weeks)

TREAT YO SELF! ($25)
You’ll get one dozen of your favorite childhood crispy rice treats with a flavor upgrade! Choose from lemon lavender, peanut butter, ginger lemon, maple bourbon, fruity pebble, or autumn spice.
(Expected delivery: 2-3 weeks)

TREAT YO VEGAN! ($30)
You’ll get one dozen of your favorite childhood crispy rice treats with a flavor upgrade but suited for those that don't eat regular marshmallows! *Contains peanut butter.
(Expected delivery: 2-3 weeks)

OP MAGAZINE! ($40) – 4 AVAILABLE
You will receive a four-issue subscription to Original Plumbing Magazine, starting off with issue #14 - the BOARD STIFF issue! I also happen to be featured in the forthcoming issue #15 for winning some sort of pageant, so you'll be right on time to see me in the magazine. http://originalplumbing.bigcartel.com

HANDMADE JOURNAL ($45) – 5 AVAILABLE
You’ll get an 8.75” x 5.75”, 128-page hand-bound, hardcover journal by the lovely Linnea LaMon. Journals will be similar (but may not be identical) to the journals found here and here.
(Expected delivery: 2-3 weeks)

A LITTLE DIDDY! ($55) – 15 AVAILABLE
I will write you a one-minute song about whatever topic you want. Have you ever wished you had a theme song, want a creative way to ask your crush out, or just want to let your furry friend know how much you love them? Say it in a song! We will have a brief chat so you can tell me the story behind whatever you want the song to be about, and I’ll write a little diddy for you!
(Expected delivery: 4-6 weeks)

GET STITCHED! ($75) – 10 AVAILABLE
I will crochet a scarf for you to wear during those cold months! It's like a hug around your neck! You can choose your color scheme.
(Expected delivery: 3-6 weeks)

TREAT YO BUDS! ($100)
You’ll get five dozen of your favorite childhood crispy rice treats with a flavor upgrade! It’s the perfect party platter! Choose from lemon lavender, peanut butter, ginger lemon, maple bourbon, fruity pebble, maple bacon, s’mores, and autumn spice!
(Expected delivery: 2-3 weeks)

BRUNCH & A SHOW ($200) – 4 AVAILABLE
I will make you brunch, two dozen treats, and sing you songs! *NYC only!

TREAT YO PARTY! ($250)
You’ll get your choice of twelve dozen treats or a three-tiered treat cake* (8"x10"x12")! Choose from lemon lavender, peanut butter, ginger lemon, maple bourbon, fruity pebble, maple bacon, s’mores, and autumn spice!
*Treat cake is only available for delivery/pickup in NYC.
(Expected delivery: 2-3 weeks; If you have an engagement with a date in mind, please send me an email about timing!)

PAY IT FORWARD ($500) – 4 AVAILABLE
I will volunteer 25 hours at an organization of your choice. This can be perfectly timed to assist your favorite organization with their year-end mailings or staffing events!
*This requires approval by me because I won't work for an org whose ideals don't align with mine. It is the contributor’s responsibility to get the okay with the organization for volunteer work. Only available in NYC.

WHOLE ENCHILADA ($1000) – 3 AVAILABLE
For contributing $1,000 you get: my endless gratitude, a handwritten note, Wintry mix, hand-crocheted scarf, a treat cake (10"x12"x14") or 15 dozen crispy treats, 30 hours of volunteer work, and a private live or Skype concert!
*Treat cake is only available for delivery/pickup in NYC.

Donations

 See top
  • Jay Gauthier-Hork 
    • $15 
    • 30 mos
  • Aubrey Mozino 
    • $25 
    • 80 mos
  • Giuseppina Cambareri 
    • $10 
    • 80 mos
  • Caitlyn Pope 
    • $10 
    • 80 mos
  • Caitlyn Pope 
    • $10 
    • 80 mos
See all

Organizer

Johnny B. Tender 
Organizer
Brooklyn, NY
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