Skip to content

Meet Leah


Leah's story

Annual Trans Surgery Fund recipient

Leah (she/her) is a trans woman from Wisconsin seeking facial feminization surgery (FFS.) We were moved by her decades-long commitment to LGBTQ+ activism with her partner, which she had to put on hold as she dealt with chronic medical illness. Because of her illness, she was unable to work, which has led to significant financial need for her and her partner.

"We were tested by disability, coming out, a building fire that left us with nothing, unemployment, poverty, and transition," Leah shares.

Despite challenges in her life, Leah remains optimistic on her future. She hopes that surgery will both alleviate her dysphoria and provide necessary physical safety as she navigates the world as a trans woman.


Leah's timeline

  • Award Granted

    February 22, 2018

    Leah was granted a Surgery Fund Award!
  • Care Received

    September 14, 2018

    Leah has successfully completed surgery!

Grant details

$7,500 towards gender-affirming care.

About Facial Feminization Surgery

On average, it costs $32,000+ for Leah's care.

What is it?

Facial Feminization Surgery (FFS) is a series of procedures aimed at altering facial features to create a more traditionally feminine appearance. This can include procedures such as forehead contouring, rhinoplasty (nose reshaping), chin and jaw contouring, lip augmentation, and various soft tissue procedures to feminize the overall facial structure. The exact procedures are customized to each individual’s desired outcome.

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

Trans femme folks often experience gender dysphoria related to facial features that are perceived as masculine. This can lead to discomfort, anxiety, and a sense of incongruence with one's gender identity. Importantly, for many trans women, access to FFS is a matter of safety and mitigating the chance they will be identified as trans in public and subjected to anti-trans discrimination or harassment. 

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

FFS is often considered a cosmetic surgery and is therefore unlikely to be covered by insurance. The price for FFS can also vary widely depending on the number and complexity of the procedures performed. It can also be hard for trans femme folks to find affirming surgeons in their region, especially in states and regions most impacted by anti-trans healthcare legislation.

What is the impact of this care on the recipient’s life?

The recovery period for FFS is significant: it can take up to a year for features to fully heal. Most trans folks report greatly improved self-esteem, confidence, and sense of authenticity, which translates into greater opportunities in employment and more.