How to Pay for Expensive Sex Confirmation Surgery

Transgender Americans can pay a hefty price if their transition includes sex confirmation surgery. For Brandon L. Beck, a 39-year-old transgender man who began the transition from female to male in his early 30s, his third and final surgery comes at a potentially unattainable cost: $ 72,500.

As part of his transition, Beck, from San Marcos, Texas, first started taking hormones and then decided to have surgeries. Beck’s parents paid for his $ 7,000 double mastectomy, and his workers’ compensation insurance covered 80% of his $ 35,000 hysterectomy.

Brandon L. Beck

Courtesy: NerdWallet

But when Beck recently quit his job as a university professor to become a freelance community educator on transgender issues, he lost his health insurance. Now he’s struggling to find a way to pay for a phalloplasty.

“There are people in our community who don’t have enough money to pay rent each month and are still thinking about it,” Beck says of the costs of the surgery.

For the 1.4 million transgender people in the country, the transition process is a unique journey that can take different paths. Some people adjust their basic appearance and legally change their name and gender on official records. Others seek hormone therapy for physical and psychological changes. Some pursue sex confirmation surgeries, which can exceed $ 100,000 and may not be covered by insurance.

These costs can be a barrier for transgender people, who often face financial instability and discrimination in employment, according to survey data from 2015. American transgender survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality.

On International Transgender Visibility Day on March 31, NerdWallet released a guide for people looking for ways to pay for sex confirmation surgeries. Here are some financing options.

Personal loans from credit unions

These unsecured installment loans have fixed interest rates, usually as low as 7 percent. Terms vary widely and depend on your credit rating and history. The loans offered may not cover the full cost of the surgery and you must be eligible for membership in a credit union.

Gender science and politics


Credit card

Credit cards should generally be used for small purchases because credit limits can be low and interest rates often high, says Steve Branton, a financial planner at Mosaic Financial Partners, Inc. in San Francisco. Plus, having a high balance can damage your credit. But using a credit card can work if you can pay it off quickly, Branton says – especially if there’s an interest-free introductory period – or if you have to fund a small amount that a loan won’t cover. Some credit unions offer cards with annual percentage rates of around 10 percent; rates on major issuers’ cards can range from 11% to 24%, depending on your credit.

Home equity line of credit

If you own a home, a home equity line of credit allows you to borrow, sometimes up to 85% of its appraised value. You can borrow and repay the funds as often as needed during the term, and highly qualified borrowers can get APRs as low as 3 or 4 percent. Interest may be tax deductible. However, if you can’t make your payments, you could lose your home. Interest rates are generally variable, so monthly payments can fluctuate. You could face hundreds of dollars in fees, so shop around.

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Care Credit

CareCredit is a credit card specifically intended for financing healthcare expenses and can be reused for future purchases. Your doctor must be registered to accept it and you can apply through your doctor’s office or online. The regular APR is 26.99%, but healthcare providers may offer promotional financing options that make it more affordable, like zero-rate deals – although you owe interest retroactively if you pay late or pay. do not repay the balance on time.

Online personal loan

Online lenders, including the Prosper and Lending Club offer personal installment loans with fixed interest rates and monthly payments. Some online lenders are connected to banks, such as LightStream and SunTrust Bank. Online loans may be easier to obtain than personal loans from traditional financial institutions. Apply online, and if you have great credit, you can get low interest rates.

Family loan

If a family member lends you money for surgery, it may be the most affordable and least risky option, Branton says. Your parent might charge a low interest rate or donate the interest. Branton suggests creating a promissory note – a document you can create without a lawyer that outlines the terms of repayment.


If your loved ones are willing to help with your surgery, crowdfunding is an option that allows you to collect donations of all sizes online. Those who share their campaigns on social media are more likely to be successful. There is no application process, although there is usually a fee for each donation.

Gender identity education


Surgery grants

The Jim Collins Foundation and Community kinship life both offer several types of grants for transgender people who cannot afford sex confirmation surgeries. Grants are a gift, but they require a long application and other documents. The number of grants available each year varies.

Fund raising

See if any local LGBTQ bars are ready to help you fundraise. Maybe a portion of the drink sales or overnight cover charge can go to your surgery fund, or maybe they’ll let you throw a fundraising night. Contact LGBTQ organizations in your community to see if they have any suggestions to help you fundraise.

Go to NerdWallet for the complete guide on payment for sex confirmation surgeries.

This article originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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