Transgender man shares realities of transitioning as a 'poor person'

‘Poor, unemployed’ transgender man, 19, who can’t afford surgery to remove his breasts details cruel comments he faces from strangers asking why he ‘chooses to keep his boobs’

  • Transitioning normally requires two surgeries – one on the chest area and one on the genital area – and each one costs thousands of dollars
  • Adonis Zeigler, 19, explained that he transitioned from female to male in 2017, but due to the price of the procedure, he wasn’t able to get his breasts removed
  • Now, he is often faced with questions and comments like, ‘You have boobs,’ ‘[What the f**k] are you?’ and ‘I’m confused, why do you have a beard?’
  • He decided to respond to one of them in a now-viral TikTok video, which has gained more than four million views since it was posted earlier this month
  • When someone asked him, ‘Why do you choose to keep [your breasts]?’ Adonis responded, ‘I didn’t. I’m only 19. I’m poor, unemployed, with state insurance’ 
  • He said not every transgender person is blessed with ‘privileged parents, supportive networks, or lucrative businesses’
  • A transgender man has spoken out about the realities of trying to transition as a ‘poor person’ with no job and state insurance, and he revealed that he was forced to keep his breasts because he couldn’t afford the surgery to have them removed. 

    Physically transitioning from a male to female or a female to male typically requires two surgeries – one procedure on the chest area and one on the genital area – and each one costs thousands of dollars.

    Trans man Adonis Zeigler, 19, is now exposing the devastating impact these costs, most of which are not covered by his insurance, can have, detailing how growing up in a ‘poor family’ has prevented him from completing his physical transition, and left him faced with cruel comments from trolls who question his sexuality because he still has visible breasts. 

    Adonis, from Ohio, began transitioning from female to male in 2017, but has yet to undergo any surgical procedures to change his physical shape.    

    Now, he says he is often faced with questions and comments like, ‘You have boobs,’ ‘[What the f**k] are you?’ and ‘I’m confused, why do you have a beard?’ 








    Speaking out: A transgender man has opened up about the realities of trying to transition as a 'poor person' with no job and state insurance

    Speaking out: A transgender man has opened up about the realities of trying to transition as a ‘poor person’ with no job and state insurance

    Adonis Zeigler, 19, revealed that he was forced to keep his breasts because he couldn't afford the surgery to have them removed

    Adonis Zeigler, 19, revealed that he was forced to keep his breasts because he couldn’t afford the surgery to have them removed

    He spoke out about it in a now-viral TikTok video, which has been viewed more than four million times

    When someone asked him, 'Why do you choose to keep them?' Adonis responded, 'I didn't. I'm poor, unemployed, with state insurance'

    He spoke out about it in a now-viral TikTok video. When someone asked him, ‘Why do you choose to keep them?’ he responded, ‘I didn’t. I’m poor, unemployed, with state insurance’ 

    And he decided to respond to one of the questions in a now-viral TikTok video.  

    ‘Why do you choose to keep them?’ Adonis wrote in the clip. ‘I didn’t. I’m only 19. I’m poor, from a poor family, unemployed, with state insurance.

    ‘Not every [transmasculine] person gets lucky with privileged parents, supportive networks, or lucrative businesses to get top surgery young. Now stop f**king asking us unless you’re footing the bill.’

    ‘Real tired of this s**t,’ he captioned the video, which has been viewed more than four million times since it was posted earlier this month.

    After one viewer said that he should ‘get to work,’ Adonis – who defines himself as a non-binary man – responded and explained in another clip that he was recently forced to quit his ‘abusive job’ because it had ‘inconsistent hours, poor management, and pay inconsistencies.’

    ‘I had a job but I quit it because I didn’t feel like being abused by that workplace anymore,’ he added.

    ‘I had good savings but over the past year and a half I have been continuously set back time and time again.’

    When he originally started to transition at age 15, Adonis said he was able to take hormones because his dad had a union job and it was covered under his insurance.

    ‘We were still poor, but he had union benefits so I could get hormones. Until he lost that job. I haven’t been on hormones in several years,’ he continued.

    Adonis said he is often faced with questions and comments like, 'You have boobs,' '[What the f**k] are you?' and 'I'm confused, why do you have a beard?'

    Adonis said he is often faced with questions and comments like, ‘You have boobs,’ ‘[What the f**k] are you?’ and ‘I’m confused, why do you have a beard?’

    After one viewer said that he should 'get to work' Adonis, who defines himself as a non-binary man, said he was recently forced to quit his 'abusive job' because it had 'poor management'

    After one viewer said that he should ‘get to work’ Adonis, who defines himself as a non-binary man, said he was recently forced to quit his ‘abusive job’ because it had ‘poor management’

    The 19-year-old told Buzzfeed in a recent interview that the only reason his father supported his transition was because he ‘getting bad mentally.’

    HOW MUCH DOES TRANSITIONING COST? 

    • Male to female ‘top’ surgery can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000
    • Female to male ‘top’ surgery costs anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000
    • There are three different types of ‘bottom’ surgeries, including a vaginoplasty, a phalloplasty, and a metoidioplasty 
    • A vaginoplasty costs anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000
    • A phalloplasty can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $30,000
    • A metoidioplasty normally ranges from $20,000 to $50,000, but in very rare cases can cost as high as $150,000 
    • Source: Healthline 
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    ‘Not even years of therapy was stopping my self-destructive tendencies and worsening grades,’ he said.

    Now, he works as a freelance artist and ‘barely makes $200 a week.’ He is also no longer in contact with his father.  

    ‘I don’t have contact with my father and I don’t have a mother. I never asked my parents or even expected them to help me with this,’ he explained on TikTok.

    ‘I didn’t expect anyone to help me with this. I didn’t make that post looking or asking for help. I was venting because it’s something I have been frustrated about for years.

    ‘I fear that I am never going to be able to transition because of the pattern of working, saving, then getting hit with an emergency I couldn’t have predicted.’

    According to Healthline, male to female ‘top’ surgery can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000. The reconstructive surgery involves doctors adding saline or silicone implants to someone’s chest to increase the size of their breasts.

    Female to male ‘top’ surgery costs anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000, and it involves removing breast tissue so that the chest reflects a flat, masculine appearance.

    ‘Bottom’ surgery, also known as sex reassignment surgery or gender confirmation surgery, normally ranges from $6,000 to $50,000, but in very rare cases it can cost as high as $150,000.

    There are three different types of ‘bottom’ surgeries, including a vaginoplasty, a phalloplasty, and a metoidioplasty.

    Now, he works as a freelance artist and 'barely makes $200 a week.' He said he struggles to save money due to having to spend it on things like 'car repairs and sudden moves'

    Now, he works as a freelance artist and ‘barely makes $200 a week.’ He said he struggles to save money due to having to spend it on things like ‘car repairs and sudden moves’

    He said: 'I fear that I am never going to be able to transition because of the pattern of working, saving, then getting hit with an emergency I couldn't have predicted'

    He said: ‘I fear that I am never going to be able to transition because of the pattern of working, saving, then getting hit with an emergency I couldn’t have predicted’

    Adonis added to Buzzfeed, ‘When it comes to access to gender-affirming surgeries, I really wish people would consider the individual and their circumstances.

    ‘Aside from financial constraints for those that seek surgery, there are countless situations that make surgery necessary for not just their mental health but oftentimes their survival.

    ‘2021 has been a horrid year in trans homicide statistics and I have personal experience where, even binding in a plain work uniform, I’ve been outed and felt unsafe in my own workplace.

    ‘Every trans person has their own unique situation. Some are fortunate enough to have access to what they need early and that makes me happy that their joy is the mainstream image of trans experiences.

    ‘However, a lot of trans folks are not as fortunate and our struggles are not talked about because of that.’ 

    Transitioning from male to female: What does it involve and how is it done?  

    The transition process is different for every person, with some transgender women choosing to undergo surgery in order to change their physical appearance, while others rely simply on hormone therapy – including testosterone – to create masculine characteristics. 

    According to Planned Parenthood, for many transgender people, the process often begins by taking several social steps, including coming out to friends and family, and asking people to refer to them by the pronouns that match their gender identity (him/he, her/she, they/them).

    Going by a different name is also an important step for some, as is dressing in ways that better match your gender. 

    Medically, gender transitional typically begins with hormone therapy; in the case of transgender men, testosterone is used to create more masculine characteristics, such as a deeper voice, facial hair growth, muscle growth, and the redistribution of fat away from the hips and breasts. 

    Hormone therapy is also used to stop a transgender man from menstruating.

    For those who choose to undergo surgery, there are several procedures that can be carried out, including ‘top’ surgery – which removes the breasts and breast tissue – and ‘bottom’ surgery to construct a penis.

    For the ‘bottom’ surgery, they can get either a phalloplasty or a metoidioplasty. 

    The phalloplasty typically involves doctors taking skin from other parts of the body to build a penis, while the metoidioplasty causes the clitoris to work more like a penis; hormone therapy usually makes it grow larger.  

    Some transgender men also decide to get a hysterectomy to remove their female reproductive organs. 

    However not all transgender people choose to transition, with some opting to take social steps without undergoing any medical treatment. 

    ‘There are many reasons for the differences in how people transition,’ the Planned Parenthood website states. 

    ‘These medical procedures can be very expensive, which means that not everyone can afford them. Some transgender people may have health insurance that covers transition-related procedures, and some may not. And finally, but most importantly — not all trans people want all of the available medical procedures.’

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