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Trans student needs $14,000 for top surgery

Mon 9 Nov 2009 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

23-year-old transgender student Max Prendergast's breast removal operation next month will cost $14,000 - so he's doing his best to fundraise for the surgery he says will be "the end of an era and the beginning of something new and exciting". Going under the knife: Max Prendergast "It feels like I have been waiting for this day to come for a long time, and the butterflies flapping around inside me are reaching epic proportions," he tells from his home in Wellington. "My surgeon will be performing a bi-lateral double mastectomy, which will essentially remove almost all the breast tissue. Then he will create a male contoured chest, including complete removal of my nipples - don't worry he'll be sticking them back on! I will be taking a few weeks off work to recover." Prendergast says his gender dysphoria makes him miserable. "I wake up every morning like 'Yay! I'm doing this or that, gonna see my friends after work etc…' and then I realise that before I even get to my cornflakes I will have to face my dysphoria, I will have to bind, and then find something to wear and I'm going to be in complete discomfort all day. At this point, I always consider just staying in bed, calling in sick, pulling the blankets over my head. "It's been like this for awhile, but now I'm only a month away from my surgery, I feel… proud. I feel proud that I get up every day and go to work, proud that I am demanding more from my life than mediocre. MAJOR SURGERY Prendergast says he's not that worried about the surgery itself. "I know the doctors and nurses will give me the best care, and I know my friends will rally around me. We have a little roster system prepared so I won't be left on my own for the first week afterward. "I reckon I can face anything with my mates there to hold my hand and if it gets really bad I can always use the line 'I'm not crying I just have something in both my eyes'." He adds that he's focusing all his energy on what life will be like after his recovery. "I'm losing two breasts but gaining my freedom. I'm looking forward to the first time I hit the beach with no shirt on, the first time I dance shirtless with the boys at Club Ivy, the first time a lover touches my chest and I don't flinch." $14,000 PRICE TAG Amongst all Prendergast's happiness and excitement is the huge burden of paying for his surgery privately. "The Health Board where I live is not currently funding gender reassignment surgeries of any kind. This means that the individual must meet the cost of surgery, which in New Zealand can cost up to $20,000. "Unfortunately for me I'm only 23, I don't have a house to re-mortgage, I have only been out of uni 12 months, and I don't have very much money at all. Prendergast has set up a fundraising page and Facebook group in the hopes that generous people will donate to help him pay off his 5-figure loan. "I know it's a big ask since we're all struggling with the recession but every dollar and every cent will help me worry me a little less on 9 December when I go for the chop!"    

Credit: Daily News Staff

First published: Monday, 9th November 2009 - 4:29pm

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