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Meet David

David's story

Annual Trans Surgery Fund recipient


David (he/him) is a trans man from Puerto Rico. David’s home was devastated by Hurricane Maria in October 2017; for months, he was without electricity in his house. His entire surgery savings had to be used on much-needed supplies in the wake of the disaster, and he continues to provide daily for his family. But despite these hardships, David is also an optimistic and enthusiastic student with an eye on the future: he is the founder of the LGBTQ+ group at his college, where he is in school on a scholarship and developing a thesis studying the experience of transgender students in Puerto Rico’s schools. He hopes to continue his education in graduate school one day.

David also shared just how much receiving chest reconstruction surgery and getting the care he needs meant to him—even finding and traveling to a trans-affirming provider in his area was a struggle. He is currently dealing with pain from binding his chest, and is eager to live with less dysphoria.

"Sometimes it just feels like I am trying to climb a steep mountain, with rocks in my backpack: one for poverty, one for inaccessibility, and one for trans experience. But, I recognize that it is not all bad, I have a support system that although can’t carry the weight for me, they cheer me on and sometimes help me get back up," David shares. "I still have faith things will start to look up."

David's timeline

  • Award Granted

    February 22, 2018

    David was granted a Surgery Fund Award!
  • Care Received

    May 24, 2018

    David has successfully completed surgery!

Grant details

$3,500 towards gender-affirming care.

About FTM Top Surgery

On average, it costs $12,000+ for David'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.