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Meet Charissa


Charissa's story

Annual Trans Surgery Fund recipient

Charissa (she/her) is a 35-year-old trans woman from Pennsylvania seeking vocal surgery – a gender-affirming procedure that her insurance company will not cover. For Charissa, this has meant that she has effectively lost her voice: “I literally fear having to use the phone or speak to new people, for fear that my voice is going to give me away and I will face some sort of discrimination or harassment.” But more than that, Charissa loves to sing and communicate with others, and her dysphoria plus concerns about her safety has meant she has to hold her authentic self back in her daily life.

Charissa shared her past struggles to save for care, and that she fears her window of opportunity closing. But despite her challenges, she remains incredibly optimistic and grateful, surrounded by loving family members and friends as well as a supportive employer. She tries when possible to donate goods or money to trans people or causes and looks forward to getting more involved in the community. After Charissa receives this surgery, she looks forward to feeling safer and far more comfortable when interacting with others.

Charissa's timeline

  • Award Granted

    March 13, 2019

    Charissa was granted a Surgery Fund Award!
  • Care Received

    October 10, 2019

    Charissa has successfully completed surgery!

Grant details

$9,000 towards gender-affirming care.

About Vocal Chord Surgery

On average, it costs $9,000+ for Charissa's care.

What is it?

Vocal chord surgery is a procedure that modifies the pitch and characteristics of the voice to achieve a more feminine or a more masculine outcome. There are various surgical techniques that may be used to change the length of the vocal chords and structures in the larynx.

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

For trans people who experience dysphoria around their voice, they may feel discomfort or distress. They may choose not to communicate or participate in daily life as freely as a result. A voice pitch that does not align with their gender presentation may also lead to misgendering, discrimination, and other barriers.

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

Vocal chord surgery is generally considered to be a cosmetic procedure, and so it is unlikely that health insurance will cover the cost. It can also be hard for trans femme folks to find trans-affirming surgeons in their region.

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

After care, many trans people report improved mental well-being and a better alignment with their gender identity. The added boost in self-confidence often leads to better social integration, emotional health, and overall well-being.