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Meet Caden

Caden's story

Annual Trans Surgery Fund recipient


Caden (he/him) is a trans man with significant financial need towards his gender-affirming care. In his application, he shared about his lack of a support system; dealing with the loss of his father; and navigating the world aware of the intersectionality of being a Black and trans man.

“I am an out of state student. I was born in Michigan and lived there my entire life until I moved to Oregon to go to the University of Oregon in 2014. I came here by myself without much financial support. My tuition with room and board is about $50,000 a year. I only can pay for about half of my that amount with scholarships and personal loans, and I struggle to find the rest of the money every term. I have worked an office job through my University over the past two years, but due to that money going directly into my tuition I was never really able to save any of it. I am a Resident Assistant this year, which lowers the amount of money I have to pay for tuition to about $25,000, but I am now only allowed to work 5 hours a week at my office job, which leaves little room for saving for both surgery and a place to live next year (so as to not be homeless).

When I came to the University of Oregon I became very active in the community. I joined the UO OUTreach program, where we connect with high school GSAs to be mentors and support them. We also host a GSA Visit Day where students visit the University of Oregon and participate in group activities and panels. Students are able to connect with peers from other schools and feel comfortable with being themselves around other individuals with shared identities. I went on an alternative student break to San Francisco during my first winter break to do service at the AIDS Memorial Grove, SF Marin Food Bank, and GLIDE, while learning about LGBTQ history such as the Stonewall riots and Henry Milk. Our trip focused on food and housing equity, violence, and the elderly in the community… I have also aided in the Queer Ally Coalition, which is a workshop program done at the University to improve allyship and educate students, employees of the University, and student workers. I aided in setting up the workshop, and have sat on a panel to talk about my experiences and answer questions. In 2015, I received the John R. Moore Award due to my achievements and strides working within the community.

I thought I would have to wait ten years after I graduated to be able to have the opportunity to have surgery. I have learned that the surgeon I want is within network for the University insurance, which means I could have surgery before I graduate. For me, as a black, queer transgender man, this is extremely important. This will help me feel not only comfortable but safe, too. With the recent political occurrences I am terrified for my life on a daily basis.

Having surgery will mean that I can change the gender marker on my birth certificate. It will mean not having ribcage pain that makes it hard to breathe. I can go out into my career unafraid that I will be turned down due to my identity. Without this fund, I am unsure that I would be able to get surgery any time in the near future.”

Caden's timeline

  • Award Granted

    February 11, 2017

    Caden was granted a Surgery Fund Award!
  • Care Received

    June 14, 2017

    Caden has successfully completed surgery!

Grant details

$3,000 towards gender-affirming care.

About FTM Top Surgery

On average, it costs $12,000+ for Caden's care.

What is it?

FTM/N top surgery is a surgical procedure that removes breast tissue and reshapes the chest contour to create a more traditionally masculine or gender-neutral appearance.

What is life like for a person who needs this care?

Prior to care, many trans masc people experience dysphoria that impacts their daily life. One of the most common and heartbreaking experiences we hear from applicants is that they cannot give hugs to their loved ones without feeling intense distress with their chest. In addition, reliance on chest binding can cause strain over long periods of time.

How accessible is it for trans folks to receive this care?

While top surgery is often categorized as a covered benefit in many insurance plans, the reality is that it's frequently denied coverage. Many people report unsuccessful attempts to appeal for coverage. In addition, finding skilled surgeons experienced in performing top surgery can be extremely challenging, particularly in states and regions most affected by anti-trans healthcare legislation.

What is the impact of this care on the recipient’s life?

Many trans folks who undergo top surgery report massive improvements to their overall well-being and mental health, leading to increased confidence and more comfort in relationships, navigating public spaces, and more.