ONTD Political

Emerson Fraternity Raises Money for Trans Brother

12:09 pm - 02/26/2013

Brothers of Phi Alpha Tau at Emerson College campaign to pay for FTM top surgery

Traditionally, college Greeks are an archetypally masculine institution—about as butch as the Boy Scouts. Pledging a fraternity and being inducted as a brother is often an arduous process, one that is meant to separate the men from the boys. But where does the LGBTQ community fit into this macho niche?

Much like the world of professional sports, the world of campus Greek life is not often heralded as the epitome of acceptance. Locker room antics are an insidious fact of the frat house. No doubt about it.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, which is what makes this story out of Emerson College particularly heartwarming: brothers in Emerson’s Alpha Chapter of Phi Alpha Tau have come together to raise funds for a new brother’s FTM top surgery (full disclosure: I'm a member of the PAT fraternity and currently a junior at Emerson).

Earlier this year, Visual & Media Arts sophomore Donnie Collins pledged as a prospective brother to Phi Alpha Tau, the nation’s oldest professional communicative arts fraternity. An Alexandria, Virginia native, Collins didn’t come out as transgender until age 17 while attending a boarding school in Windsor, Conn. Of his time in an all-girls dorm, he says in a recent interview, “They were really nice, but it was all horrible."

Thus far, Collins has been taking his gender transition one step at a time. Barred from using his mother’s insurance to cover any physical transitions, he has singlehandedly covered the bulk of his hormone therapy since December 2011.

“I’d go to the endocrinologist and pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket, because, of course, I didn’t have insurance of my own,” he explains.

Collins now has a college health insurance policy through Emerson, a policy, like so many others, that is trans-exclusionary. It is common practice for insurance companies to deem female-to-male breast augmentation—or top surgery—as a cosmetic plastic surgery rather than a necessity. So Collins has been raising money for the procedure for months, but it seemed that one door after another would close in his face. His petition for a trans-inclusive policy was recently denied by the college's insurance plan, and his personal Chipin fund will cease when the crowd-funding site shuts down next month.

In a time when his options were running out, Collins’s brothers in Phi Alpha Tau have rallied together to cover some of the surgery’s cost. Find their indiegogo fund here: Brothers of A Boston Fraternity - FTM: Top Surgery. The brothers' fund has already surpassed the $2,000 they initially hoped to donate, but now they’re looking to cover even more of the procedure’s $8,100 cost.

Collins has been completely overwhelmed by the wave of support, admitting to have cried out of gratitude when he heard what his brothers were doing. But the thought that this is a fraternity raising money for him never even crossed his mind.

“I was just like, ‘Oh that’s such a Tau thing to do,’ and I didn’t even think it was that weird,” he says. “But then I started sending [the indiegogo link] out to people, and they were like, ‘Oh my god, that’s amazing! See, Greek Life isn’t bad; it’s amazing.’”

The brothers’ site says that they hope less to raise money with their efforts and more to spread acceptance, brotherhood, and love. “We are here... to tell a story. The story of transformation, the story of self-discovery, and the story of brotherhood.”

It seems that Donnie Collins and his brothers' story is certainly one worth telling. Please consider donating to their cause.

callmetothejedi 26th-Feb-2013 10:22 pm (UTC)
Way to go Emerson College fraternity Phi Alpha Tau! :)
a_leprechaun 26th-Feb-2013 10:51 pm (UTC)
This warms my heart. Both the situation itself and the well-handled article.
theguindo 26th-Feb-2013 11:08 pm (UTC)
ikr! no pronoun fail and no randomly giving out his birth name, I'm stunned

Also saying he "[came] out as transgender" instead of "became a man" or any other bullshit like that

A+ job, article!
britneyspears 26th-Feb-2013 11:24 pm (UTC)
ikr ? it was written by a member of the frat mentioned, so i was wary at first that the author might stumble a bit but i ended up pleasantly surprised
poetic_pixie_13 26th-Feb-2013 11:05 pm (UTC)
pepsquad 26th-Feb-2013 11:24 pm (UTC)
so cute!
aviv_b 27th-Feb-2013 12:02 am (UTC)
I'm shocked....but for once in a good way. Donated as well.

OT - Chip-in is closing down?
moonshaz 27th-Feb-2013 07:48 pm (UTC)
From the Chipin website:

"This is to notify all users of Chipin.com website ("Website") that ChipIn Inc. has been merged with InMobi Technologies Pvt. Ltd (collectively referred to as "Company"). We further wish to notify that InMobi has decided to discontinue the Website and all services thereunder on March 7, 2013 ("End Date")."

The above is an excerpt from a longer letter, all of which can be read here.
aviv_b 27th-Feb-2013 08:18 pm (UTC)
that_therapist 27th-Feb-2013 12:30 am (UTC)
This is making me ridiculously happy, cos it's been one of the days. :D
paksenarrion2 27th-Feb-2013 03:28 am (UTC)
Such a great contrast to the other story from that other college I shall not name right now.

Well done gentlemen, may you be an inspiration to others.

chantalzola 28th-Feb-2013 07:39 am (UTC)
I've been pout of the loop sick for the past couple of days, what was the other story?
paksenarrion2 TW:R*pe28th-Feb-2013 08:03 am (UTC)
UNC decides to charge Landen Gambill with an honor code violation saying it was disruptive or intimidating behavior even though she did not name her alleged attacker. Not necessarily frat related but college related.
chantalzola 28th-Feb-2013 08:08 am (UTC)
Oh wow...... I'm seriously at a loss for words. This is fucking disgusting =(
ennifer_jay 27th-Feb-2013 04:11 am (UTC)
I'm crying. I'm totally donating money.
bostondreamer 27th-Feb-2013 06:00 am (UTC)
As a member of a sorority (Phi Sigma Sigma represent!), it really makes me glad to see stories like this. I know Greek life has a very bad reputation, but there are a lot of us trying to change that and it's nice to see other chapters making an effort. Major kudos to them!
natyanayaki 27th-Feb-2013 06:01 am (UTC)
This story, and this (http://youtu.be/4KYIo0NsQl4) make me happy.
elialshadowpine 27th-Feb-2013 09:56 am (UTC)
Wow. That's awesome. I'll see if I can chip something their way when we get our paycheck.
fm_gatekeeper 27th-Feb-2013 08:01 pm (UTC)
Wonderful article. This fraternity is awesome. I'm one of those people who can be really judgmental of fraternities and sororities, for some good reasons and a lot of not-so-good ones, but there are a lot of fraternities that have been wonderfully excepting of trans men and as a trans guy myself that makes me really happy. (I haven't heard much about sororities and trans women, or I'd mention something about that here.)
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