One of the biggest decisions you’ll face as a transgender person (or someone supporting your transgender loved one) in your gender affirmation journey is whether to commit to gender-affirming top surgery-- either chest reduction or breast implants. Often, it feels like that decision depends mostly on one thing: whether you can afford it.
Anything related to money can be a very stressful subject. It might feel overwhelming to think about paying the costs of top surgery, but money shouldn’t prevent you from getting the transition-related care that you need.
Let’s take a look at the total costs of gender-affirming top surgery, and break down the ways you can pay for it. Even if it takes a little while to get there, you have a financial path to the body you want to live in.
The total costs of top surgery
The average cost of gender-affirming top surgery in the U.S. is $8,000-10,000. As you’re planning out what you need, however, there are some other costs to factor in as well:
- Will you have paid leave from work for recovery for 2 weeks or more, or will you need to cover those living expenses?
- Will you be traveling to your surgeon, and therefore will you need to add in the costs of travel, hotel, car rentals or services, and food while you’re away from home?
- Will your new chest be changed dramatically enough that you’ll need new clothes right away?
- Will you have cash or credit available to pay for compression garments, ice packs, bandages, and other medical supplies while you recover at home?
- Will you need to pay for meal deliveries, car services, pet care, child care, or household help while you’re recovering and are limited in what you can do for yourself?
- Will you have other physical exams, consultations, blood work, or prescriptions to pay for, and will your health insurance pay for any of it?
As your first step, make a list of all these expenses (there are many transgender support groups and forums online where you can ask others who have had surgery what they spent) and create a timeline to organize them, so you can see how much money you need to have at what point in the process. You might be able to spread things out over time, or start buying some supplies ahead of time.
Options for financing your surgery
Let’s look at the possibilities for covering the costs of your chest reduction or breast implants.
If you have health insurance, you can look into whether your surgeon accepts your insurance and whether your policy covers any portion of transition-related health care. In many cases, it won’t-- but more insurers have begun to cover it, and more states have begun to require insurers to cover these costs.
Out of pocket
Obviously, the simplest route is to pay the costs directly, if you have the means. Many transgender people choose to save money over time or receive help from family members. Of course, this option isn’t available to everyone.
This is a credit card specifically for health care expenses. Our office accepts it, and can help you apply for it in order to spread out your payments over time. CareCredit sometimes has promotions that allow you to save money on interest if you pay within a certain amount of time.
Personal Loan/Line of Credit:
If you belong to a credit union or own a home, you might be able to get a low-interest loan, including an unsecured one. Some credit unions even offer loans specifically for medical costs.
Many transgender people reach out to their networks via a crowdfunding campaign on a site like GoFundMe. If you have a big social circle with people who can all contribute a little bit, this can be a way to get some or all of your costs covered.
Many transgender support organizations offer grants to cover the costs of transition-related surgery, and they sometimes cover the entire amount. Of course, these are pretty competitive, but they offer a financial option to many people who don’t have other ways to pay for surgery.
Two things to avoid are paying for your gender-affirming surgery costs with regular credit cards, and bargain-hunting for cheaper surgery. Your body deserves the best care, and lower surgery costs could mean lower-quality care. Credit cards aren’t intended for major costs like surgery and the interest could result in you paying much more than the actual costs.
Trying to figure out what your surgery costs will be, and decide how to cover them? Call us at 410-308-4700 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and we’ll be happy to talk through all your options with you. We want you to have the body that fits who you are, and to find the best way to achieve it.