KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Not talking about gender dysphoria – feelings of distress regarding gender identity and sex assigned at birth – can be detrimental, according to one Kansas Citian.
“You have to talk about it. You have to bring it up. It has to be a topic of conversation," Josiah Alvidrez said, "and if you have the ability to help – then do that.“
It's that message of being the change that spearheaded the Gender-Affirmation Project at Kansas City's Center for Inclusion (KCCI), of which Alvidrez is an applicant. The project is intended to help trans, non-binary, gender non-conforming and gender-diverse people in need by providing a $1,000 grant to help pay for gender-affirming surgery.
For Riley Long, it's a passion project – one Long helped start after he fundraised the money for his own surgery.
“My surgery was about $7,500," Long, also KCCI vice president, said. "So looking at that and being like, 'How do I come up with all that money?' and you don’t want to wait a long time for it either because it’s something that affects you every single day, having gender dysphoria."
Dr. Angela Turpin, a pediatric endocrinologist with Children's Mercy Hospital's Gender Pathways Services, said the project's efforts to raise money for these surgeries is huge.
"We know from various studies that anywhere from 40-60% of transgender individuals who are not provided gender-affirming care will attempt or have attempted suicide," Turpin said.
Gender-affirming surgery changes a person's sexual characteristics to better reflect their gender identity. It's a journey Turpin said is life-altering and she hopes others understand the gravity of.
“To get people to recognize that – that it changes that person's entire trajectory on their life, what they are able to accomplish and what they are able to contribute to society can really be impacted by that one surgery,“ Turpin said.
Long attested to that.
“Being trans isn’t always the first thing that I necessarily like to talk about with people," Long said. "It’s not the most important thing about me. But being able to be comfortable in your body, like I said before is life saving... life changing.“
Long wants to help provide that potentially life-saving procedure for someone else now. Like Alvidrez.
“Being able to actually try and get it and know that it may be a possibility, it gives you hope," Alvidrez said, "and a lot of times in these situations you just don’t necessarily have it. Knowing the struggle that it is and having those thoughts of, 'How am I going to do this? How is this a possibility?' [and] being able to kind of hush those for someone else is also something that feels amazing.“
The deadline to apply for grant is Sept. 1.
The winner will be chose at random. Then, funds will be send directly to the surgeon or facility performing the surgery and are intended for use within 12 months.
Anyone under the trans umbrella who is 18 years old or older in the Kansas City metro area is eligible to receive funding from the Gender Affirmation Project.
“Everybody needs community," Alvidrez said. "Everybody needs someone to kind of be there with them, and if you have the ability to do so, there’s just no reason why not."
After opening the application period and the crowdfunding site, the $1,000 fundraising goal was reached within a week. Organizers said if enough money is raised between now and Sept. 1, there's a potential for multiple recipients.
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