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Meet Kalen

Kalen's story

Annual Trans Surgery Fund recipient


Kalen (he/him) is a 27-year-old trans man from Indiana who is seeking both top surgery and hysterectomy. He and his wife are new parents who got hit with an unexpected curveball: when his wife was on bedrest, his existing savings was used to keep the family afloat. In addition, Kalen is living with a chronic respiratory illness, and lacks health insurance. The older Kalen gets, the harder it will be for his body to undergo anesthesia, so time is also of the essence in getting the gender-affirming care he needs.

Kalen is currently working full-time at a clinic for children on the autism spectrum and is also in school to one day become a gender therapist. Receiving surgery is also very meaningful to his personal and professional goals: “Dysphoria is crippling, and I keep putting off graduation because I don’t want to see a diploma with my birth name. In my state of Indiana, you have to be post-op to change your gender markers and name.”

Kalen's timeline

  • Award Granted

    February 22, 2018

    Kalen was granted a Surgery Fund Award!

Grant details

$8,000 towards gender-affirming care.

About FTM Top Surgery

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