Frat pays for brother's sex change
February 28, 2013 -- Updated 1549 GMT (2349 HKT)
- An insurance company denies Donnie Collins' request to cover a sex change
- Phi Alpha Tau members launch an online drive to pay for Collins' surgery
- "We see Donnie as a brother," the frat president says
- "I'm overwhelmed and surprised," Collins says
(CNN) -- Donnie Collins' journey from female to male will continue, thanks to a college fraternity that raised money for sex-change surgery.
Collins, a 20-year-old sophomore at Boston's Emerson College, learned soon after he joined the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity that his insurance company declined to cover surgery to remove breast tissue to flatten his chest.
Phi Alpha Tau members, defying the conventional stereotype of a fraternity, launched a campaign on an online fundraising site -- Indiegogo.com -- with a goal of collecting the $8,100 needed for the procedure, scheduled for May.
"We see Donnie as a brother and we want to support him in this endeavor," Phi Alpha Tau Chapter President Jon Allen told CNN affiliate WBZ-TV.
"We are here less to raise money, and more to tell a story ... of transformation, and a story of self-discovery, and the story of brotherhood," the online appeal said.
Opinion: Gender identity not just about body parts
The response was overwhelming, resulting in almost $16,000, according to the frat's website. The money left over after the surgery will be donated to the Jim Collins Foundation, an organization that helps "fund gender-confirming surgeries for transgender people," the group said.
"I'm overwhelmed and surprised. I can't thank everyone enough," Collins told WBZ-TV.
The whole Emerson campus has been supportive of Collins, according to Jason Meier, who supervises the school's Greek groups as student activities director.
Being transgender no longer a mental 'disorder' in diagnostic manual
"Emerson has always been very inclusive and accepting of LGBT students," Meier told CNN. "I didn't even flinch or bat an eye. It just seemed like every day for these men."
Collins is not the first transgender member of the fraternity, Meier said. Another transgender student became a leader in the group, he said.
Phi Alpha Tau, which has been active at Emerson since 1902, describes itself on its website as a "professional communicative arts fraternity."
Parents of transgender first-grader file discrimination complaint
CNN's Alan Duke contributed to this report.
Part of complete coverage on
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 2300 GMT (0700 HKT)
April 27, 1994: Nelson Mandela's crowning moment and the day South Africa held its first elections for citizens of every race.
He was imprisoned for life but that did not quiet him. Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black president, and an icon and inspiration.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 0319 GMT (1119 HKT)
His was a great sense of humor, with a dry wit and remarkable ability to render someone speechless with a well-placed one-liner.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 1625 GMT (0025 HKT)
Mohammed Jamjoon interviews the American performer who stunned the Arab world by singing in Arabic.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1252 GMT (2052 HKT)
He was loved and admired the world over, profiled in books and movies. Here are 10 surprising facts you probably didn't know about Mandela.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 1532 GMT (2332 HKT)
"Sometimes it just takes one incident to galvanize a society," says CNN's Sumnima Udas.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 1426 GMT (2226 HKT)
Drones hover like a bee, flap like a bird and bounce like a ball. These awesome flying robots are taking unmanned flight in new directions.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 1225 GMT (2025 HKT)
The mysterious "catacomb saints" were venerated by the Catholic Church and encrusted with gold and jewels -- before disappearing for centuries.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
The KAZA conservation area is working to make it easier to cross borders.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 1256 GMT (2056 HKT)
He started his first business venture with capital of just $200 but today, he is one of Liberia's most prominent businessmen.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
North Korea is showing no signs of scaling back its fearsome labor camp system, says human rights group Amnesty International.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 1051 GMT (1851 HKT)
Meet 24-year-old Marita Cheng: the talented technician bringing robots to your home.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 0304 GMT (1104 HKT)
Japanese blogger Keisuke Jinushi started the "hitori date" (one-man date) blog two years ago.
Today's five most popular stories