Entertainment :: Culture

Emerson Student Gets Sex-Change Coverage After-All

Thursday Mar 7, 2013
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The Emerson College student turned down for sex change surgery will get coverage after all, ABC News reported today.

In a reversal, the insurance carrier has agreed to cover the so-called "top surgery," or best removal for Donnie Collins, the 19 year old student who was born female but has been male identified since prep school.

Collins received national attention recently when the fraternity he was pledging agreed to help him raise the money for the surgery.

"After the rejection of his initial request, the college contacted Aetna for clarification -- knowing that transgender benefits have been part of its insurance policy with Aetna since 2006," the college said in a statement.

According to a report on ABCNews.com, "Emerson’s Phi Alpha Tau, a professional arts fraternity, heard that Collins’ insurance would not pay for sex reassignment surgery and launched a campaign to help him out."

The fraternity posted a video on the fundraising site IndieGogo.com. It has raised $18,000.

"Emerson was one of the first colleges in the nation to remove the exclusion of transgender benefits from its policy, according to the college," reported ABCNews.com.

Aetna, though, had not updated this change in policy, the school stated.

"This inaccuracy led to the rejection of coverage."

Collins reacted in a YouTube video.

"It’s been a really incredible experience...I honestly couldn’t be happier with the way things are turning out."

Collins will be responsible for his co-pay, travel and care expenses, which will total
about $2,000.

"He said on his blog that he will contribute the balance of donations to the Jim Collins Foundation (no relation), a nonprofit that helps pay for sex resassignment surgeries for those who are transgender," ABCNews.com reported.

While in high school Collins joined a transgender youth group led by activist Tony Ferraiolo, whom he credits for providing him the support he needed during this difficult period.


Ferraiolo said that he was "incredibly proud of Donnie for overcoming the obstacles in his life, becoming the man he is today, for inspiring people to take on a cause that is larger than him, and giving back to the community in this way."

Collins came out as transgender while attending a boarding school in Windsor, CT. He is a visual and media arts major at Emerson.

"The first step in Collins’ gender transition was hormone therapy, but his mother’s insurance policy did not cover the cost. Since 2011, he has paid out hundreds of dollars on his own," said the ABCNews.com report.

Aetna has also agreed to pay for the hormone therapy, according to Mother Jones.

Emerson officials also said that Aetna has updated its internal documentation that caused the error.

"Diversity and inclusion are a priority for the college, and we continuously strive to be a place that encourages open hearts and open minds," said the college statement.

Watch Donnie Collins’ YouTube update of his sex-change operation:


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