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Fraternity raises money for brother's top surgery

by Jackie Tempera / Beacon Staff • February 28, 2013

Holding his testosterone, Donnie Collins poses for a photo in his dorm room last December.
Holding his testosterone, Donnie Collins poses for a photo in his dorm room last December.

Members of the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity at Emerson helped raise funds for new brother Donnie Collins’ female-to-male top surgery, a procedure that will remove breast tissue and flatten his chest. 

Collins, a sophomore visual and media arts major, first posted a video on YouTube in December asking for donations for his surgery. He created a page through the fundraising website ChipIn.

The procedure would cost $8,125, according to Collins’ video. 

Later that month, Collins posted on his ChipIn site again, saying he made an insurance claim through Aetna, Emerson’s provider for student insurance. If the claim went through, Aetna would cover 80 percent of the surgery’s costs, and he would be responsible for $1,625, according to his ChipIn page, donniecollinssurgery.chipin.com.

Three members of Phi Alpha Tau created a video on Feb. 9 announcing that Collins had been denied his insurance claim, and that the fraternity would help Collins, who was in the process of pledging. The group created a page on the crowd funding platform, Indiegogo.

Collins’ storyand Phi Alpha Tau’s effortshave recently gained significant media attention. His quest for funds to cover his surgery was covered by the Boston Herald, Boston Globe, CNN, and the Huffington Post this week. 

As of yesterday, Phi Alpha Tau’s Indiegogo page has raised $18,948, far exceeding its goal of $8,100. The excess funds will be donated to the Jim Collins Foundation, a group dedicated to providing financial assistance to transgendered people trying to have gender-confirming surgeries, according to the fraternity’s Twitter account.

Collins and members of Phi Alpha Tau could not be reached for immediate comment.