YOUR MONEY-Doing the transgender math: The costs of transition

Thu Oct 29, 2015 10:00am EDT
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By Chris Taylor

NEW YORK Oct 29 (Reuters) - When Sara Davis Buechner began her transition from man to woman, she knew there were going to be emotional hurdles, like dealing with her family.

But there were financial costs, too. And she knew they were going to be forbidding.

Medical procedures like facial electrolysis cost $20,000. There was a year of therapy, required at the time to make sure Buechner, a renowned pianist, was a suitable candidate for transition - at $80 a session.

Since American options were just too pricey, Buechner opted for surgery in Thailand. The tab? $10,000, including flights.

This was in the early 2000s, and none of those costs were covered by insurers. She sold one of her two pianos, a Yamaha, to help foot the bill. "I emptied all my accounts," Buechner remembers. "And I consider myself one of the lucky ones."

Buechner was more than willing to pay those high bills, because it was the culmination of something she had known since childhood: She was female, despite having been born as David.

Transgender issues are more openly discussed these days, such as Caitlyn Jenner's transition from Olympic athelete Bruce Jenner. But the costs of transition can be overwhelming, especially for a population that is already marginalized.

The Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery, for instance, lists menus of procedures for both male-to-female transitions and female-to-male that total well over $100,000.   Continued...