Gender Confirmation Surgery Cost & Funding Guide: How to Financially Prepare
An estimated 1.4 million US adults are born with gender dysphoria. Simply put, gender dysphoria is the diagnosis where your mind doesn’t match your birth gender. This diagnosis does not mean that one is automatically transgender; however, many people start to find peace once they start transitioning.
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.
Health Insurance Coverage for SRS or 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 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 a 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:
These surgergies 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 gender confirmation surgery, if not paid for by their insurance. United Healthcare covers the following surgeries:
- Penile prosthesis
- Testicular prostheses
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.
Finance what’s right for you
As technology advances and there are more and more ways to transition, it’s important to remember that there’s no “right path.” Many transgender people only do what’s necessary to help them find their innermost peace.
In Cosmopolitan’s interview with three different transgender women, one woman clarifies, “To be clear, surgeries don’t define trans people. They aren’t a finish that makes us our true gender. Surgeries and hormones and all the other steps are just tools to help us live our true gender with as little pain and dysphoria as possible. Not everyone has access to or can afford the treatments they need.”
Lean on your community
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. Let’s take a look at some examples of successful GoFundMes below.
Syd opens up to his community about his inner struggle
After suppressing his male identity until his mid twenties, Syd has been living his gender identity since taking his first shot of testosterone on June 30th, 2011. While HRT was the beautiful beginning to his journey, he knew that the necessary next step was “top surgery” or a bilateral mastectomy and male chest reconstruction. Though creating his GoFundMe was an extremely difficult and personal decision, it was clearly something that he needed to do. Even with his insurance policy, 0% of his surgery was covered. 220 donations later, Syd was ecstatic to announce that he reached his goal.
Maria turns to GoFundMe to share her history 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.
After raising $6,200 with his parents, Lewis creates a GoFundMe to fund the rest of his top surgery
As a self-described chemistry nerd with a passion for graphic design, Lewis identifies as a man but was born with a female body. Though chest binding is an option for many who choose to avoid top surgery, it can be extremely uncomfortable and can cause permanent damage to internal organs if worn for over 8 hours a day. Tired of living his life feeling constricted, Lewis uses GoFundMe to start the process of living a fuller life. After his surgery, Lewis is looking forward to swimming, playing sports, changing in the men’s locker room without worry, and most importantly, finally recognizing himself when he looks in the mirror.
Using GoFundMe to finance your gender reassignment transition
While opening yourself up on the internet can seem scary, raising enough money to finally see in the mirror what you’ve felt for so long can be well worth it. With over $4 billion raised, GoFundMe helps you raise money from your community to make a seemingly impossible surgery feel more within reach. With today’s medical advances, it’s important to take your future into your hands, and crowdfund for something that you truly believe in. Ready to make the big move? Start a GoFundMe Gender Reassignment Fundraiser.