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 6:49 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
British journalist John Cantlie hadn't been seen in nearly two years. Now, he's the latest hostage to be paraded out by ISIS.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
updated 11:58 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
updated 10:44 AM EDT, Sat September 20, 2014
 Tennis Player Li Na attends the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party as guests enjoy Ciroc Vodka presented by Dubai Duty Free at Kensington Roof Gardens on June 19, 2014 in London,
Asia's first grand slam singles champion Li Na has called time on her 15-year tennis career.
Jenson Button has some of quickest reactions ever shown at an advanced sports lab.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
updated 6:07 AM EDT, Fri September 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