An increasing number of transgender Australians are turning to the world’s biggest fundraising platform, GoFundMe, to help fund their top surgeries.
A GoFundMe spokeswoman reported seeing a 50 per cent increase in the number of GoFundMe campaigns launched between 2018 and 2019 to help cover the costs of top surgeries. There has also been a doubling in the total amounts raised.
Top surgery, also called male or female chest reconstruction surgery, is the term used for breast augmentations or bilateral mastectomies (breast removal) performed on people who are transitioning genders.
Top surgeries are not currently covered by Medicare or private health insurance unless deemed medically necessary. As a result, many people are left with significant out-of-pocket expenses to fund these necessary, life-changing surgeries.
In the past year, several successful GoFundMe pages have been created to help finance top surgeries. Antony Nate Weslin from Melbourne created a GoFundMe page titled “Nate’s Nipps are getting Nopped off” and raised over $5000 last year for his top surgery.
After a successful operation at Masada Private Hospital, Nate told Star Observer that he was overcome with emotion once he’d hit his target of $5000.
“I cried a lot,” Nate said while giggling.
“It was really emotional and just gave me a lot of faith in humanity, and my family and friends and the people who care about me. It made me really see people from a different side, I guess.”
Nate also noted that, while creating the GoFundMe was initially daunting, the results have proven positive, both physically and fiscally.
“I had some money troubles just from general life and moving house, and a bunch of my friends were like ‘we’ll give you some money’, but I wasn’t sure because I hate asking for things,” he said.
“So I decided to set up this thing to see what happened. I set it up for a couple of days and definitely the hardest part was deciding what to write. I mean I really hate asking for things.
“I figured ‘you know what, I’ll put it out there. If no one donates any money, then it doesn’t matter, but if they do, then it’ll really help me out.
“It also only took me a month, and I already had a small amount of savings but that GoFundMe meant I wasn’t totally ruined with debt afterwards.”
While community outreach and more importantly, support, sends a strong message about Aussie comradery and acceptance, many have pointed out that this shift towards using GoFundMe for transgender surgeries should be sending an even stronger message to the government.
Australian health insurance, private or public, is still yet to cover surgeries that combat gender dysphoria, an issue that’s becoming increasingly prominent for many in the LGBTQI community.
While Medicare doesn’t cover elective or cosmetic surgeries, trans activists currently argue that top surgeries and even gender confirmation surgeries should fall under the ‘medically necessary’ category for an individual with gender dysphoria.