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Meet Gemma


Gemma's story

Annual Trans Surgery Fund recipient

Gemma (she/they) is a 33-year-old trans femme non-binary person from Australia seeking bottom surgery. 

Gemma currently receives welfare benefits from the Australian government and also works part time; she is currently in the process of applying for disability benefits. That said, they have tuition expenses that cause financial strain, especially as Gemma is unable to work full-time due to physical and intellectual disability.

"I had never applied to a fund like this before because I believed I was not worth the expense," Gemma shares.

Gemma grew up in Thailand and shares that the Thai culture and identity is a core part of who they are. "Most of the people in my family are social workers, nurses, or adjacent. Support work is incredibly fulfilling, and I am currently working with psychologists and physiotherapists to enable myself to do more in the role," Gemma says. "My goal is to support people who experience incarceration.  Prison abolition is close to my heart."

Gemma is overwhelmed by excitement for life post-op. She believes she will no longer face many of the barriers she currently does in her daily life. "I will be able to relax within my body and finally feel more like my whole self."

Gemma's timeline

  • Award Granted

    February 15, 2024

    Gemma was granted a Surgery Fund Award!
  • Consultation Date

    March 16, 2024

    Gemma had a consultation with Dr. Christine McGinn!

Grant details

$20,487 towards gender-affirming care.

TikTok-a-Thon grantee

About MTF Bottom Surgery

On average, it costs $35,000+ for Gemma's care.

What is it?

MTF bottom surgery is also known as gender-affirming vaginoplasty or genital reconstruction surgery. Bottom surgery typically involves multiple surgical techniques and varies widely based on a person’s individual needs and desired outcome.

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

Before undergoing surgery, trans individuals typically experience dysphoria that impacts their daily life. Patients will undergo extensive consultations to discuss their goals, expectations, and surgical options. It is often a long and challenging process to be approved for surgery.

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

While bottom 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?

The recovery period for bottom surgery is significant: depending on the individual, it may take several months to heal from the surgery. Most trans folks report greatly improved self-esteem, confidence, and sense of authenticity, which translates into greater opportunities in employment and more.