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Meet Joel

Joel's story

Annual Trans Surgery Fund recipient


Joel (he/him) is a 27-year-old trans man of color seeking top and bottom surgery. He has tried to get surgery a year ago but was denied by his healthcare provider. He has no financial support from family, and therefore has been on his own trying to cover his own expenses while trying to survive homelessness.

As a result, Joel has been depressed and felt incomplete. He doesn’t even like looking in the mirror or any reflection of himself. Joel is a musician, he has big goals and dreams and wants to break barriers. He wants to reach his goals so he can give back to his community so it will be less hard for people like himself to find safety, recognition and support. He also loves animals and feeds the stray animals he sees on the streets.

Access to surgery will impact Joel’s life greatly. He shared that he knows surgery will help him truly look at himself for the first time. Joel shared, "Once I am able to feel my chest and I won’t feel weighed down by the thing that wasn’t suppose to be there, I’m going to cry tears of joy. I'll take the biggest inhale. It will be ethereal, and I can’t wait."

Joel's timeline

  • Award Granted

    March 28, 2022

    Joel was granted a Surgery Fund Award!
  • Care Received

    September 22, 2022

    Joel had surgery with Dr. Mosser!

Grant details

$8,000 towards gender-affirming care.

About FTM Top Surgery

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