Fraternity pays for brother’s sex change

The article written below by CNN is inspirational and a testament to how times are changing. [sorry it is a little delayed. I thought I had posted it already]

Donnie Collins’ journey from female to male will continue, thanks to a college fraternity that raised money for sex-change surgery.

Collins, a 20-year-old sophomore at Boston’s Emerson College, learned soon after he joined the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity that his insurance company declined to cover surgery to remove breast tissue to flatten his chest.

Phi Alpha Tau members, defying the conventional stereotype of a fraternity, launched a campaign on an online fundraising site — — with a goal of collecting the $8,100 needed for the procedure, scheduled for May.

“We see Donnie as a brother and we want to support him in this endeavor,” Phi Alpha Tau Chapter President Jon Allen told CNN affiliate WBZ-TV.

“We are here less to raise money, and more to tell a story … of transformation, and a story of self-discovery, and the story of brotherhood,” the online appeal said.

The response was overwhelming, resulting in almost $16,000, according to the frat’s website. The money left over after the surgery will be donated to the Jim Collins Foundation, an organization that helps “fund gender-confirming surgeries for transgender people,” the group said.

“I’m overwhelmed and surprised. I can’t thank everyone enough,” Collins told WBZ-TV.

The whole Emerson campus has been supportive of Collins, according to Jason Meier, who supervises the school’s Greek groups as student activities director.

“Emerson has always been very inclusive and accepting of LGBT students,” Meier told CNN. “I didn’t even flinch or bat an eye. It just seemed like every day for these men.”

Collins is not the first transgender member of the fraternity, Meier said. Another transgender student became a leader in the group, he said.

Phi Alpha Tau, which has been active at Emerson since 1902, describes itself on its website as a “professional communicative arts fraternity.”

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When a person is born they are identified as male or female, depending on their body parts. From that point on, they are expected to live as their identified sex— females ushered into the world of pink, dolls and fashion and males ushered into the world of blue, leggos and sports.

And while this concept seems simple enough, it does not align with reality. The world cannot categorize people into blue or pink, with body parts as the only identifying factor because one’s sex and gender are not that simple.

The reality is, one could be born male or female [sex] but not identify or relate to being a woman or man [gender], respectively. Instead, they identify with the opposite gender.


Sex v gender

While some may believe sex and gender are synonymous, they are not.

Sex is a fixed concept based on biology, whereas gender is based on culture and social cues.

This means that while one may be born one sex, they may not identify with that gender and how the world sees that gender. Instead, they internally identify with the opposite gender. This causes many to feel trapped in the wrong body, prohibiting them from being who they truly are.

There are medications and surgeries people can undergo, so they can transform their body into the person they see themselves as [if they wish to], instead of the way the world has determined them to be. However, these medications and surgeries are expensive, and many health care companies do not pay for such treatment.


Contemporary society


Today, transgender [one whose internal gender identification and gender roles made by society do not fit] and transsexual [one’s who believes their sex at birth does not align with their internal feelings and may undergo surgery so it aligns] individuals are more accepted in society than years past, but it is no way perfect. They still face discrimination under the law, ridicule from others and, at times, experience violence for who they are. But there are also those— like the frat in the story— that are accepting of a person for who they are, and that is a beautiful thing.

Unfortunately, laws often lag behind reality, and need time to catch up. But that is where people come in. Be a voice of change. Help someone become who they are and have always been.

It does not matter how small your action may seem. It only matters that you take it, and [eventually] the world will follow.


About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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