In weighing the pros and cons of transitioning, a trans person is mainly concerned with their personal relationships with family, friends, church, and community and how much their gender identity affects their emotional well-being. "If I identify as male/female, how important is it to live that way?" Another aspect of every transition, unfortunately, is money. Money matters because, for some who do not have discretionary finances, making the right choice is critical for paying the rent. This is a Christian issue too, because Jesus is deeply concerned with how we use our money.
Go and sell everything you own and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.
Too many modern Christians need to learn the hard truths that Christianity really teaches. The heresy is that God gives Christians money to enjoy, but Scripture teaches God gives for the same reason God does anything - to further the Kingdom of God, to nurture good relationships, and to grow us into maturity. But this is neither the time nor the place. Let's simply make the assumption that how we use money is very important and mis-using it is sin. Believing that much, what does the use of money suggest?
More often money is used as a motivation not to transition and for good reason. Transitioning costs money. Transitioning means different things for different trans people. For some, it involves medical treatment. For some it means hiring a therapist. For some it means changing legal documentation. For others, it means none of these things. Some people will spend more on clothing and toiletries, others will spend less.
The most commonly cited is surgery, especially sex reassignment surgery where the shape and function of the genitals are changed through surgery. Some people will choose to only remove tissue. Chest surgery, or mastectomy, is common for people born female where the breasts are removed. A friend of mine who is genderqueer and was born male will have an orchiectomy, simply removing their scrotum and testicles. Gender defenders love talking about SRS because it makes cisgender people the most squeamish. This is the most expensive because there it is the most invasive, delicate, and most likely for complications. Naturally, cost will depend the particular surgeon and whether medical insurance is provided. Some rare insurances plans cover the entire amount. Travel costs may also increase cost. Here are some estimates in US dollars, assuming no insurance or travel.
Howard Brown Health Center gives free counseling for their lowest income bracket. Other therapists may charge as much as $150/hr.
Treatment for transsexualism is cost effective. Even though extremely expensive, it is significantly less than a lifetime of psycho drugs, hospitalizations, and emergency services with no significant or employment to society. With the help of SRS and testosterone, I am beginning to merge society with the desire not only to support myself but to devote myself to the community that carried me for so long. - Nikolas J. McDaniel Transgendering Faith
Let's examine a few trans people who I'm familiar with to see how money affects us.
Where better to begin than myself? I'm genderqueer and have zero interest in any surgery. On and off, I've contemplated legally changing my name and taking anti-androgens but neither is necessary to me and I haven't spent a dime on either thus far. I have seen a couple therapists, but transgenderism rarely comes up. I'd be paying the same money even if I was cisgender. The only thing I have spent money on regarding transition is clothing. It's too late to add receipts, but I estimate I've spent $300-500 on transgender clothing (that is, clothing not ascribed to my assigned gender) over the past decade. Keep in mind, I'm extremely frugal; I frequent thrift shops, sale aisles, and clothing swaps. Of that $300-500, I would have need to spend $200 on additional clothing anyway. Another ~$50 was wasted because I went shopping alone and bought awful items that, had someone with sense gone with me, would have saved me the expense. So my net cost is a measly $50-250. Had I not transitioned, I surely would need much more therapy and $250 would only cover a month more.
Now take a good friend of mine who's a transman. He also doesn't intend on hormones or any surgery or changing legal documents. His transition is one where he has physically stayed the same but presents himself differently than before transition. He doesn't see a therapist either and probably wouldn't if he hadn't transitioned. The only association his transition had with money was saving him money on clothing and the like because he would have paid more for women's things than men's.
I also know transwomen who have taken the more stereotyped path with hormones and surgery and spent the typical $15,000 or so. Who can say for certain, but one of them says she can't find a job because she doesn't pass well and employers won't hire a trans person. If she's right, that costs her more than all her other expenses combined.
Then consider Jerry Leach who started transitioning but stopped. At an early point, he attempted a self-orchiectomy in an act of desperation. While he succeeded in removing his testicles, he nearly died from blood loss and was hospitalized. The emergency room and other bills must have cost him several thousand dollars more than had he done is properly. He began taking artificial male hormones to replace what his testicles would have created naturally; even without transitioning, he must pay for life-long hormones. Later, he secretly saw psychiatrists behind his wife's back to receive female hormones and SRS for a year and a half. He scheduled SRS but then canceled, perhaps after paying for some or all of it. All this brought him more bills but none of the emotional reward of actually living as his identified-gender. He received counseling from his pastor whom, I assume, did not charge him. It's not possible to know just how many thousands of dollars Jerry spent or if he would have saved money by actually transitioning. He does show that not transitioning has a heavy financial price.
Peterson Toscano does not identify as trans, but he attended ex-gay counseling and now identifies as ex-ex-gay or simply gay. He says that after 17 years and over $30,000 on counseling, books, and conferences he still could not live as heterosexual. Had he simply accepted himself as a gay Christian as a teenager, he would have saved all of that money. Peterson highlights not only the money required by trying not to "transition," he shows you risk wasting it all only to find yourself transitioning later. A transgender equivalent (ex-ex-tarns) is Marissa Dainton, though I don't know of any numbers.
While I promised not to preach, on money, let me make just one point. If, and I believe you should, factor finances into the decision to transition, you must be consistent. To take money into account with transgender but not with the rest of your life is hypocritical. While no American likes to claim they're rich, my $200 or another's $20,000 isn't the difference between life and death. I dare anyone to come to me and claim they have not spent $20,000 on themselves for pure recreation and pleasure. Gender transition is not pure recreation, it is (part of) coming fuller into our true selves. I compare it getting married, working for a non-profit, or parenting children which all cost money. Before finding the specks, let's examine the planks: living in two story houses instead of a single; two cars instead of one; eating out versus rice and beans; cable and internet subscriptions versus the library. Likewise, to proclaim, "I must transition, no matter the cost!" is as stupid and sinful as claiming, "I must have that sports car, no matter the cost!" As Christians, our highest priority is serving God. Both our gender and our money are resources to do that and must use them harmoniously. Whatever your philosophy on money, be consistent.
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