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Meet James


James' story

Annual Trans Surgery Fund recipient

James (he/him) is a 23-year-old trans man in South Dakota seeking top surgery. As a full-time college student, James works two jobs to make ends meet. In addition, James is a parent to a young child with his wife, which means his family's expenses take priority over saving for surgery. He currently faces housing insecurity and does not have health insurance.

Despite these challenges, James remains optimistic about his future. "I aspire to be a history teacher. I love learning and teaching what I have learned to others. I have a beautiful, four-year-old daughter that I love and care for so much and a wife that supports me, my identity and everything else I dream to be," James shares. "The family I have made for myself over the years is so filled with love and acceptance that I could not have predicted for myself."

James' timeline

  • Award Granted

    February 15, 2024

    James was granted a Surgery Fund Award!
  • Care Received

    June 3, 2024

    James had surgery with Dr. Sanjay Mukerji!

Grant details

$10,661 towards gender-affirming care.

TikTok-a-Thon grantee

About FTM Top Surgery

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