Emerson College fraternity members raise money for one brother’s gender reassignment surgery

Members of an Emerson College fraternity are raising money so one of the fraternity brothers who is transitioning to become a man can get gender reassignment surgery, a college official said.

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Donnie Collins, class of 2015, was denied insurance coverage this month to remove breast tissue and restructure his chest, said Jason Meier, director of student activities at Emerson.

Collins is now being helped out by fellow members of Phi Alpha Tau, “guys in the fraternity who care deeply about one of their brothers,” Meier said.

As of this evening, they had raised $11,455, Meier said. That was above the brothers’ goal of $8,100.

“They’re doing whatever they can do to help him out,” Meier said. “One of the things we are always talking about at Emerson is being a caring and just community. And the brothers of Phi Alpha Tau recognized this and, in turn, cared about him and accepted him as who he is.”

Collins was born female, but has presented himself as a male since he began attending Emerson, Meier said. He has been undergoing hormone treatments for 14 months. When he joined the fraternity, the brothers knew he was transgender, Meier said.

“The men of Phi Alpha Tau were aware that Donnie was making the transition and accepted him for who he was ... and sent him an invitation for him to join into their brotherhood,” Meier said.

“Once he became a member, the groundswell of support and caring and acceptance was so strong that a multitude of the membership really felt they were in a position to assist and, with his blessing, they did,” Meier said.

“We care deeply about each and everyone, and rely on the entire active brotherhood to stand behind any one individual when they are in need,” the fraternity brothers wrote on the Indiegogo fundraising site, where donations for Collins are piling up.

In a video response linked to the page, Collins said, “It kind of really took me by surprise. I honestly still don’t know what to say about that. ... The words ‘Thank you’ just don’t do it anymore.”

He thanked his frat brothers and a variety of other people for their support.

“I really don’t know what to do with all of the love in the room right now,” he said. “I really don’t.”

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