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Band of brothers: Emerson College fraternity raises money to help member afford female-to-male confirmation procedure

Micah Benson | Art Director

Phi Alpha Tau, a professional communicative arts fraternity at Emerson College, is raising funds to help new member Donnie Collins afford a female-to-male confirmation procedure.

Collins had a student insurance plan through Emerson’s health center and worked tirelessly with the director to develop a claim that would cover 80 percent of the cost, only to have the claim denied, according to The Huffington Post.

The brothers responded immediately to help Collins raise the approximately $4,800 needed for the first procedure. Up to this point, Collins had been paying for all of his procedures out of pocket because his current insurance plan considers the procedures to be cosmetic, according to a Feb. 28 Out.com article.

Princeton Review named Emerson the friendliest campus for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. The support from the fraternity brothers is considered normal for the campus’ greek life organizations, said Regina Lutskiy, president of Emerson’s Alliance of Gays, Lesbians and Everyone Else, in an email.

“I know that the world was shocked by the story, but it was really just another day for us here at Emerson. Greek life isn’t about the parties, but it’s about taking care of your brothers and sisters and finding a group that shares your beliefs,” Lutskiy said. “All of our sororities and fraternities are very LGBTQ friendly, and I can’t imagine it any other way.”

The fraternity quickly raised $8,100 to cover the entire procedure, and has now raised more than $19,000. Any excess funds will be donated to the Jim Collins Foundation, which provides financial aid for gender-confirmation surgeries to transgender people,according to Out.com.

The brothers started an Indiegogo page to advertise the fundraiser and state their mission. The brothers made it clear on the website and in interviews that this is not just about raising money, but spreading the story of the struggle of transgender students.

The top procedure is the next step for Collins. He has wanted the surgery for more than three years. He has legally changed his name and has been undergoing hormone replacement treatment for the past 14 months, he said in a video interview with The Huffington Post.

“It’s been incredible, and I definitely feel like this is the proudest moment of my entire transition,” said Collins in a Feb. 28 Out.com article. “Not only am I accomplishing what I wanted to, but I can actually give back to a community that has given me a lot of support.”

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