“Our hard work is paying off,” says Tony Ferraiolo, one of the organisation’s co-founders. “Friends, families, and allies have helped us to raise these funds, and with their help we are able to fulfil our mission by providing Drew with the surgery that he has long awaited.”
Drew came out as transgender to his family and friends in 2008. He states that “the Jim Collins Foundation for me is a miracle. They helped me to stay motivated to live each day purposefully…I improved my life, mind, body, relationships, and faith. To know that people are out there who do NOT have to be helping–but are–makes me motivated to do everything I can…”
Drew submitted his application for a grant in hopes of receiving funds to help him obtain gender-confirming surgery that, for far too long, seemed impossible to afford. In preparation for surgery, Drew collected cans three to five days a week, keeping in mind that “five cents was way more than zero.”
The mission of the Jim Collins Foundation is to provide financial assistance to transgender people for gender-confirming surgeries. The Jim Collins Foundation recognises that not every transgender person needs or wants surgery to achieve a healthy transition. But for those who do, gender-confirming surgeries are an important step in their transition to being their true selves. However, access to gender-confirming surgery is impossible for most. Discrimination against transgender people is so prevalent that many transgender people struggle to survive, never mind save for surgery costs. Even for those who have health insurance, coverage is systematically denied. Many insurance policies contain a “Transsexual Exclusion Clause” which excludes all medical procedures related to a person’s transgender status. For many transgender people, access to surgery is out of reach.