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Meet Rigdon

Rigdon's story

Annual Trans Surgery Fund recipient


Rigdon (he/him) is 54-year-old trans man seeking top surgery. After working as a teacher for 25 years (and even winning a “Teacher of the Year” award), Rigdon came out as trans. As a result of beginning his transition, he lost his job. Rigdon was eventually able to find a position at a new school, but his salary was much lower, covering only basic living essentials for he and his wife. When his wife had an accident and needed surgery, his entire savings was wiped again.

Over the years, Rigdon has attempted many times to get coverage through insurance but has been repeatedly denied. Efforts at fundraising among friends/family and in the community have been unsuccessful: “I live in a small rural town of 2,000 people. Most of us work for non-profits. We are all highly paid intrinsically but not too well monetarily.”

Currently, Rigdon works as an elementary school teacher at a small school, specializing in working with students with learning challenges. He loves his chosen career and hopes to do it for the rest of his life. “The one thing I have learned in my 50+ years is that I have to live my truth and follow my passion even if it means I will always struggle monetarily. I have a wonderful wife, job, community and family. I am richer than I have ever been.” When he’s not working, Rigdon is passionate about hiking, fishing, and spending time with family.

Rigdon's timeline

  • Award Granted

    May 9, 2020

    Rigdon was granted a Surgery Fund Award!
  • Care Received

    July 22, 2020

    Rigdon has successfully completed surgery!

Grant details

$9,000 towards gender-affirming care.

About FTM Top Surgery

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