An Emerson Frat Crowdsourced Funds for a Trans Brother’s Surgery

Watch as the world learns that Emerson frat bros aren't so stereotypical.


Emerson sophomore Donnie Collins is a female-to-male transgender student scheduled for a top surgery—a double mastectomy and chest reconstruction—this May. When Emerson’s insurance policy declined to pay for the procedure, his prospective brothers in the communicative arts fraternity Phi Alpha Tau stepped in to help. Boy, did they succeed.

The brothers set up a fundraising campaign on the crowdsourcing website IndieGoGo “less to raise money, and more to tell a story,” as they wrote. Yet raise money they did—they quickly surpassed the $8,100 needed for the surgery and thus far, they’ve raised over $15,000. They certainly told their story, too, as they’ve garnered a bunch of admiring write-ups in the LGBT press in the process.

Undoubtedly some of the viral success behind their efforts comes from the shock many of the website’s visitors got when they tried to reconcile the idea of a “frat brother” with the image of three guys trying to help out their trans friend. If you’re familiar with the culture at Emerson, this probably shocks you less, but it’s fun to watch others figure it out.

Out Magazine’s Benjamin Lindsay, for instance, writes:

Much like the world of professional sports, the world of campus Greek life is not often heralded as the epitome of acceptance. Locker room antics are an insidious fact of the frat house. No doubt about it.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, which is what makes this story out of Emerson College particularly heartwarming.

Gawker’s Caity Weaver puts it more … Gawkerly.

Frat bros do lots of things that upset us. They host “racist ragers.” They butt-chug fine pinot grigio. They host barbecues on Locust Walk during finals when you’re trying to study OH MY GOD TURN DOWN THE MUSIC.

But sometimes they also do things that melt our hearts, like start Indiegogo funds to pay for a transgender brother’s sex reassignment surgery.

(Maybe the best way to know that this is a story that’s fairly feel-good no matter how you ask is to read the surprisingly positive write-up the normally trans-ambivalent Boston Herald gave the story.)

For his part, Collins isn’t letting it overwhelm him. He posted a response telling his story himself and asking other trans people to reach out to him for support. Watch it here: