HOUSTON, TX - If Caitlyn Jenner can do it, anyone can, right?! Not exactly, says nationally recognized trans community advocate Cristan Williams.
“I think one of the things that Jenner does, it makes it possible to have some more conversations, what it doesn’t do is actually address the real life hardships that the trans community experiences on a day-to-day level, unless you’re a multimillionaire which most of the trans community is not,” says Williams during a phone interview.
In fact, most people longing to reconcile the sex assigned to them at birth - with the gender they identify with - don’t have the wealth to undergo the incredibly expensive treatment.
Houston surgeon Dr. Michael Eiseman’s practice is recognized as both welcoming and understanding to the transgender community.
“A mastectomy for example… would be about $6,000, not including hospital or anesthesia charges, that’s another $3,000… lower the super orbital ridge, in male patients, make it more feminizing or jaw surgery and each of those is probably $3,000 or $4,000,” he explains.
And any surgery below the belt, and you’re looking at anywhere from $40k to $50K.
“In the past, insurance has not covered it. More recently insurance has covered it because they recognize this is a legitimate medical problem,” says Dr. Eiseman.
That legitimate medical problem is a condition called Gender Dysphoria. And the surgeries to treat this condition are meant to save lives. Unemployment, homelessness, and depression run rampant within the trans community. One survey even revealed the suicide rate among those who reveal they are transgender – is 50%.
Surgery is the last step. In order to qualify, patients have often gone through hormone treatments, long-term psychiatric evaluation, and have lived their lives as their identified gender for at least a year.
So while it`s significant that someone as prominent in the public eye as Caitlyn has drawn attention to a community that so desperately needs better understanding, it`s also important to realize these decisions are not made lightly, and society still has a long way to go towards equality.