On top of the emotional toll of unsupportive family members and friends, the financial cost for transgender individuals to transition can be extremely high. Only recently have companies and governmental agencies started to see the need to include transition related medical expenses in their insurance coverage.
Currently there is no explicit federal legal requirement for any insurance plan to cover transition related care. According to the Human Rights Campaign, as of May 2011, there were no commercially available products that contained fully inclusive transgender health care coverage.
To give you an idea of the costs, the typical costs of transition for male to female (MtF) transgender individuals like myself are months or years of laser removal or electrolysis of the facial and other body hair, countless doctor visits with blood work to monitor hormone levels and organ function, psychological counseling, and genital reconstructive surgery. All total, one can be looking at from $30,000 to $50,000, much of which is not covered by typical insurance.
For the female to male transgender individuals, breast reduction, chest reconstructive surgery and the genital reconstructive surgery can run as high as $50,000 alone depending on the type of procedures done.
For those of us that have transitioned as adults, hormones can only reshape your body so far. Many MtF transgender individuals choose to have other surgery to enlarge the breasts and feminize the facial features and it all comes with their own costs and it is all considered cosmetic and not covered.
For myself, the medical bills so far for transition alone have seriously crippled my monthly budget. Sending me into further medical debt even with the 80/20 plan I am on, I now have the medical costs for doctors and tests that were needed to diagnose the hypothyroidism and the Fibromyalgia and the continued care required for these issues.
Mentally and by nearly all outward appearances in my life, I am a woman and have transitioned so successfully that nearly no one would know about my former self unless I told them. But it still pains me that I have come to the point in my life that I may never be able to financially realize my childhood dream of being a complete woman physically. I won’t speak for all transgender individuals, but for me, I will always feel slightly incomplete physically until the day I wake up from that final surgery.
The idea of going to work for a company that covers transition related medical costs has crossed my mind. As has moving to San Francisco and going on their public aid program, which recently began covering the medical costs related to transgender individuals.
Maybe it is my naturally impatient nature or just the stark honesty that I have been forced to live that I come to this conclusion. It will take me years to pay off what I owe so far, so saving for any future surgery is simply out of the question and the longer I am forced to wait, the more complications can arise during surgery and post-op.
I long ago resigned myself that I may be alone the rest of my life, not having a partner to share my life with again. I have had deep meaningful conversations with several of my girlfriends about this subject. All of them telling me there is someone out there for everyone. I've been told not to let one small part of my anatomy rule whether or not I can have a relationship. One of my friends that has really only known me for a few months said "I'm 100% positive there's a Christian-raised man out there with an open mind who will love you for you. An operation is not going to change any of that."
And I'm sure she's right and there very well be someone out there that God has for me. But it is for my own personal reasons that I am not comfortable having a physical relationship with anyone right now, not until I am complete physically.
Until insurance companies start covering medical procedures and care, men and women like myself will be denied or unable to access surgery and other care purely on lack of financial means.