Skip to main content

Frat pays for brother's sex change

By Rande Iaboni, CNN
updated 10:49 AM EST, Thu February 28, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An insurance company denies Donnie Collins' request to cover a sex change
  • Phi Alpha Tau members launch an online drive to pay for Collins' surgery
  • "We see Donnie as a brother," the frat president says
  • "I'm overwhelmed and surprised," Collins says

(CNN) -- 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 -- Indiegogo.com -- 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.

Opinion: Gender identity not just about body parts

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.

Being transgender no longer a mental 'disorder' in diagnostic manual

"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."

Parents of transgender first-grader file discrimination complaint

CNN's Alan Duke contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:45 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
updated 7:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
updated 5:26 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
updated 5:54 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
updated 9:31 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT