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Social Issues
This Fraternity Raised Thousands Of Dollars For A Transgender Brother’s Surgery
February 27, 2013
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Photo: BostInno

A fraternity at Boston's Emerson College helped a brother out in a way that you might not expect.

Donnie Collins is a sophomore student at Emerson, and a brother in the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity. He's also transgender, and he's scheduled for a top surgery - a double mastectomy/chest reconstruction - this May.

But Emerson's insurance policy declined to pay for the procedure. That's when Collins' frat brothers stepped in.

The brothers set up a fundraising page on IndieGoGo for Collins, who wasn't even pledged to the fraternity yet - he was still a prospective pledge. According to the site, they initially set up the page "less to raise money, and more to tell a story."

But so far, they've raised quite a bit of cash: their original target was $2,000. Thanks to media attention, they're up to $17,855 so far, with 39 days still to go.

Here's the video they made in support of the fundraising campaign. They stress that the key for them is getting the word out about Donnie's situation:

Donnie posted a video after the campaign hit the initial $2,000 mark thanking the brothers in his fraternity, along with all the others who have helped him along the way.

Part of his message is about accepting help when it's offered: "I guess what to get out of this is, if you are coming out, if you are needing support right now, find the people who are willing to give it, and just accept it."

In The BostInno, Collins, who is a screenwriting major, said he couldn't believe the outpouring of support from "both the Emerson community and his new fraternity brothers."

Update: It turns out Collins' surgery will be paid for by insurance after all. Mother Jones reports that the original decision to deny funding was a mistake on the part of the insurance company.

On Wednesday, March 6, Collins posted a statement that he had received "very unexpected news regarding his insurance claim," and that the insurance company will in fact be paying most of the money. He'll only have to cover $2,000 for co-pay, travel and care expenses.

The rest of the money Collins and his frat brothers raised, about $18,000, will go to the Jim Collins Foundation.


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