Gender-Affirming Surgery Grants Awarded by Jim Collins Foundation

March 26, 2013 (New York, NY) – The Jim Collins Foundation (JCF) is pleased to announce its 2013 grantees receiving funds for gender-affirming surgery. Hundreds of transgender people applied for a JCF grant, demonstrating urgency and financial need. Due to widespread discrimination in public and private health care, most transgender individuals have no access to this type of medically necessary coverage. Jim Collins Foundation is the only national nonprofit organization with a mission to fund gender-affirming surgery.

2013 JCF Grantees Nicky Roberts and Mac Anderson were selected by a nation-wide committee comprised of anonymous transgender individuals. Nicky lives in Washington State as a graphic designer, and Mac lives in Western Massachusetts and works in a retirement home.

“Nicky and Mac, like so many of our applicants, have demonstrated a life or death need for surgery. Without this grant, they would not be able to live productive, healthy lives,” said Tony Ferraiolo, President and Co-founder of the Jim Collins Foundation. “We are thrilled to be able to help them become the people they need to be.”

JCF recently made national headlines (CNN, ABC, Advocate)  when transgender student Donnie Collins (no relation) received a flood of public financial support though a fraternity fundraiser that was prompted by the rejection of Donnie’s insurance claim. The risk of harm from denial of health care for transgender people is very real. The American Medical Association and other leading medical associations have called upon public and private insurance companies to lift the widespread exclusions targeting transgender people. After the story broke, Emerson College and Aetna corrected the policy to cover Donnie’s surgery. It’s critical that insurance companies follow suit. Health care discrimination against trans people is known to be linked to the high suicide rate in the trans community. According to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 41% of transgender people surveyed reported attempting suicide.

“We would like to see an end to transgender health care discrimination by public and private insurance companies,” said Dru Levasseur, Vice-President and Co-founder of the Jim Collins Foundation. “This issue is being litigated in the courts right now, but in the meantime, we must come together as a community and do what we can. Each person the Jim Collins Foundation helps means one more life saved, and hope for so many more.”

JCF operates on individual donations and grants, and is run by a board of directors and advisory board comprised of medical professionals, attorneys, and activists. The number of grants awarded is dependent on funds raised, and pro bono services have saved the foundation thousands of dollars, allowing JCF to put towards future grants. The grants provided this year were made possible with thanks to pro bono services provided by Dr. Christine McGinn. Jim Collins Foundation has one grant cycle per year, running April 1 through August 1, 2013.

“Every time I hear or think about the Jim Collins Foundation I feel limitless and lighter than a feather. I feel so in words I can only describe and explain as infinite,” said 2013 JCF Grantee Mac Anderson. “I cannot believe there is a foundation like this to help transgender people — there should be more in the world.”

“The Jim Collins Foundation makes dreams come true and inspires,” said 2013 JCF Grantee Nicky Roberts. “There are so many people who are in need — JCF is a lighthouse to the community that I believe will help many people in the years to come.”

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