Gender diverse people can expect to pay thousands of dollars to undergo gender reassignment surgery in Australia, but a Melbourne group has announced a unique grant to help with these costs.

Victorian-based Transitory Life revealed its First Life Grant worth $500 this month.

One grant is being offered for gender diverse Victorians to help cover the medical costs of gender reassignment surgery.

Transitory Life founder Teague Leigh has been fundraising for the grant since 2009 by hosting annual events. Three events have been held so far.

Leigh told the Star Observer he had mixed emotions about announcing the grant.

“I’m glad to be finally giving back… but I just wish it was more,” Leigh said.

Leigh said the grant was lower than he had expected but said it was overdue.

“It’s a lot lower than I originally planned so you know, I’m a little disappointed that it’s not more,” he said.

“There’s so much need out there.”

He said he was not aware of any other grants offered in Australia specifically towards the medical costs for gender diverse people.

Many gender reassignment surgeries are considered elective surgeries which can be expensive and mean joining long-waiting lists unless they have private health insurance.

But even before surgery can be considered, gender diverse people must prove to have lived in their ‘true’ gender for some time and undergo psychiatric assessments.

In 2010, the Zoe Belle Gender Centre (ZBGC) estimated there were about 650 gender diverse people in Victoria alone who wanted to legally and medically transition.

ZBGC working group member Tom Cho told the Star Observer he welcomed the grant and said the financial costs of transitioning surgery were a common problem for gender diverse people.

“The cost can run into the thousands and there can be multiple surgeries required,” he said.

“Not every sex and gender diverse person seeks to have surgery but for those who do, the cost can be quite daunting.

“There have been cases where people have taken out bank loans or have had to simply wait and save up.”

Leigh said he hoped he could offer the grant annually but added he needed volunteers to keep up the momentum.

“Hopefully this will be an annual grant, that’s always been the plan,” he said.

“If I get more people helping out, there’s no limit really.”

Grant applications close October 7.

INFO: www.transitorylife.org

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