The Cost of Being Transgender

Posted on May 6, 2018 by Ellen Defrancq
Cost of Being Transgender

We hear all the time about how difficult it is for transgender individuals to live comfortably among society. However, we hear very little about how much it actually costs someone in financial terms to be a transgender individual. Here, you will learn more about how much it really costs to make the transition.

Transition & the Beginning Stages

Though many transgender individuals ultimately choose to undergo gender reassignment surgery – if they can afford it, or if their insurance providers cover it – everyone starts somewhere. For many individuals, it all starts with hormone therapy. Those born in a male body who wish to transition to female will take estrogen injections; those born in a female body who wish to transition to male will take testosterone. In many countries, healthcare providers exclude such treatments and therapies. They are deemed “not medically necessary”, and as such, health insurance providers are not required to pay for them, even when patients pay exorbitant premiums for their policies.


Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) alone costs the average transgender patient 1,500 a year. This is where everything begins, and it’s one of the most powerful tools any individual can have in his or her arsenal when it comes to transitioning. Most individuals continue to use hormone replacement therapy for many years, and over time, the costs add up. Someone using HRT for 10 years, which is common, will spend a total of 15,000 out of pocket just for hormones. This doesn’t include surgical procedures or other treatments that may help them achieve a more feminine or masculine appearance.

Facial Feminization

Facial feminization surgeries are vital to the wellbeing of an individual born into a male body. These are designed to reduce the appearance of masculine features and provide a softer, more feminine look. The average cost for transgender individuals, when all of the procedures have been completed, is between 25,000 and 60,000. Because insurance often does not cover these costs, the patient must pay out of pocket.

Breast Augmentation

While it is certainly possible to get breast implants for a couple thousand dollars in the US, it is important to remember that MTF transgender patients have unique needs. For example, their shoulders are naturally broader, so they need a larger cup size. This can significantly increase the costs of the surgery. On average, patients will pay between5,000 and 10,000 for breast augmentation alone.

Gender Reassignment Surgery

For those patients who choose to complete their transitions with gender reassignment surgery, which can also help to reduce or even remove a patient’s reliance on certain kinds of hormones. The surgery itself costs 30,000 or more, but that is not the only cost. Regulations vary across the globe, but American doctors require patients to show proof of at least two years of therapy, and with therapy ranging from 50 to 200 an hour, on average, this is costly, as well. Because only a few doctors in the world are truly experienced in gender reassignment, patients need to cover travel costs.

When all is said and done, a transgender patient transitioning from male to female over the course of 10 years may pay close to 100,000 on the low end just to become the person she has always been. Fortunately, more insurance providers than ever before cover these procedures – at least in part – which offers some respite from the financial burden associated with transitioning.  

Recent Comments
  • Veerle

    Posted: May 27, 2018

    It is important to note that each of these procedures is completely optional. Not every transgender person has the goal to be completely passing. Body dysphoria takes different forms. For some, one or more of these treatments may be the most important, and the rest does not matter that much. Others may feel they need all of these treatments. For some, it may even be impossible (or impossible to afford) to ever be completely passing. No one should ever feel pressured to get these treatments in order to feel legitimate in their gender identity. Therefore, I think it is very important to stress that being 100% passing should not be the final goal of these treatments - bringing a client to a point where they feel a little better in their skin should be the main goal.

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