In US & UK, Trans Youth Turn to TikTok to Fund Gender Confirmation Surgeries

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday October 20, 2020

Trans teen Jax on TikTok
Trans teen Jax on TikTok  (Source:Screenshot/Jaxsilv/TikTok)

Transgender youths in the United States and Britain are turning to TikTok to help raise the money they need for their gender transitions, reports Wired.

TikTok users raising funds for top surgery and other transition-related medical care post videos and direct users to their GoFundMe pages, the article reported. In the United States, most people seeking gender confirmation surgery have to pay out of pocket; Wired notes that top surgery alone costs around $10,000 and "the full cost of transitioning can add up to more than $100,000," expenses that are "rarely covered by health insurance" despite the life-saving nature of the treatment.

Despite the U.K.'s Nationalized Health Service, young people there are in similar straits. "While the NHS does offer free hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery to a select few, the waiting time for a gender clinic appointment can be up to three years," the article said. "Trans people, therefore, are choosing to self-fund as a speedier alternative."

One teenager profiled in the piece, Jax, helped to kick off the trend when he noticed an offer from social media influencer David Dobrik, who was giving away a Tesla automobile. Jax had a different idea, Wired reported: "In a post tagging Dobrik, Jax wrote: 'hey david dobrik instead of giving people free teslas can you fund my top surgery?'."

Jax told the outlet that while he's also reached out for contributions on Instagram, "I never get as much reach as I do with TikTok."

Author Chris Stokel-Walker, who is penning a book about TikTok, also spoke about why TikTok is a preferred social media avenue for trans youth seeking donations. "On TikTok, there is less of an us vs them attitude than on other social media platforms," he told Wired.

The platform is as plagued with trolls and haters as any other social media outlet, noted Wired, but Jax framed that challenge in a pragmatic way, saying, "Even when I do get hate comments, at least they're still helping my video grow!"

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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