Frat pays for brother's sex change
updated 10:49 AM EST, Thu February 28, 2013
- 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.
Part of complete coverage on
updated 4:29 PM EDT, Tue June 18, 2013
A man who silently stood and stared at a portrait of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish state, in Taksim Square drew hundreds to his vigil.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Tue June 18, 2013
Could the end of the war in Afghanistan be in sight? A flash of hope flickered at the end of the tunnel Tuesday.
updated 11:14 PM EDT, Mon June 17, 2013
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden is laying low, but that's becoming increasingly difficult. CNN's Ian Lee reports.
updated 9:20 AM EDT, Tue June 18, 2013
Chinese netizens are outraged as photos surface of tourists posing with a dying dolphin on Weibo.
updated 6:17 AM EDT, Tue June 18, 2013
With global food supply needing to increase by an estimated 70% by 2050, the continent is at the heart of the challenge of food security.
updated 6:36 AM EDT, Mon June 17, 2013
Snipers are doing most of the fighting in one war-torn Damascus suburb in Syria. CNN's Fred Pleitgen finds that death can come any minute.
updated 7:36 AM EDT, Tue June 18, 2013
CNN's The Gateway goes behind the scenes of the world's major transport hubs, revealing the logistics that keep goods and people moving.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Tue June 18, 2013
Those countries in the Middle East that have been spared political upheaval find themselves enmeshed in a different sort of battle of late...
updated 10:14 PM EDT, Mon June 17, 2013
Chris Kreis talks exclusively to CNN's Piers Morgan about his trip on a whale shark's back.
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Tue June 18, 2013
Mifalot is an Israeli NGO which brings together children from all backgrounds through football.
updated 8:52 AM EDT, Tue June 18, 2013
From Charles Lindbergh's record-breaking landing to his solar flight, CNN takes a look back at the Paris Airshow's most memorable moments.
updated 6:40 AM EDT, Thu June 13, 2013
Scenes of violent clashes between protesters and police may make visitors to Istanbul think twice. Is it time to cancel your trip?
updated 1:07 PM EDT, Fri June 7, 2013
CNN received more than 1,000 iReports from Turkey in less than a week from people demanding their voices to be heard.