Who am I?
I'm Samantha Allen. You might know me as the person who wrote an open letter to games media, the person who sang about alpacas in a silly game, or as the person who wrote a controversial article about transphobic feminists.
I'm also a transgender woman which means that my assigned sex at birth was male but my gender identity is female. I started my transition a year ago and, since November 2012, I've been taking hormones everyday.
What do I need?
I've spent my entire life trying to correct the circumstances of my birth. I was born with a penis and a congenital heart defect into a devout Mormon family. In 2007, I left the Mormon Church. My father told me that my decision would have "eternal consequences" (i.e. "you're going to hell"). As you can imagine, relations have been strained ever since.
In 2008, I had to undergo a complex four-hour, open-heart surgery to replace my aortic valve. I'll always have a six-inch scar down the center of my chest and I'll have to monitor my heart health for the rest of my life. There's a strong chance I'll need to have another valve replaced within the next decade. Not a lot of people knew this before now, but I want you to know that my personal and financial struggles with transition are set against a backdrop of an incredibly difficult health problem that requires constant monitoring.
In 2012, I finally started my gender transition. I came out a year ago, in September 2012. I got on hormones in November 2012. I started laser facial hair removal shortly thereafter. I changed my name legally in February 2013. And I met my amazing partner Corey this summer.
Me and my friends at my "coming out":
It's been a long road and I just want it to be over. I've been dreaming of a day when I have found family of my own, when my heart situation is under control and when I finally feel physically comfortable in my gender identity. That day is almost here. I can feel it. I just need a little help from my friends to get pushed over the edge.
I want a vagina because I hate my penis. I can't look at myself naked. I can't wear the clothes that I would like to without painfully tucking my genitals. When Corey and I have sex, I can't even think about what's happening down there or else I won't be able to have an orgasm.
I've scheduled my surgery for April 23rd, 2014 and I need your help to pay for it.
I can't even begin to explain what this would mean to me or to Corey. For me, this would be the physical endpoint of a difficult and complicated journey. Logistically, I'd be able to change all of my government documentation to F which would allow me to not be outed to employers and physicians. But I would also be able to look how I want to look and have the kind of sex I want to have. I just want to know what it's like to love my body for one day and I'll be happy. Please help me get to that day.
Me and my partner Corey:
What can you do?
If you're in a position to donate, please donate.
I've tried to assemble a variety of interesting perks and stretch goals (see below) to encourage your generosity. You will receive my undying gratitude and you will be a part of changing someone's life in an incredibly meaningful way.
This is the one and only time in my life that I will ever ask for money. If you want to support me or say thanks for something I've done, this is your chance.
I recognize that not everyone is in a position to donate or that you might prefer to donate to folks in more desperate positions. I understand and respect that choice. I don't have money to give away, either, and I know that others need funds more than I do.
If you make the choice to support me, please share this fundraiser far and wide. Share it on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, even Google+. E-mail your friends. If each one of my Twitter followers raised $4 in one day of donations, I'd have enough money for the surgery TOMORROW. The further this spreads, the faster it gets funded.
What am I giving back? A GAME and more!
SUPER VAGINA TIME
In addition to several perks (at the side), this fundraising campaign has one major stretch goal. If it reaches $15,000 (an amount which will comfortably cover my procedure as well as associated travel and lodging costs -- see details below), I will commission game designer Cameron Kunzelman (Catachresis and Alpaca Run) to make
a twitch-arcade vagina dilation game about vaginoplasty aftercare.
If you enjoyed Super Hexagon, you'll like this game a lot.
I will also commission my friend Brigid Choi to compose and record a riot grrrl soundtrack for this game. I'll also commission someone to help Cameron with the vagina art. THIS WILL BE AS AMAZING AS IT SOUNDS. It is tentatively titled: SUPER VAGINA TIME. The game will be released by January 15th, 2014.
A screenshot from Alpaca Run:
Possible Donation to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project
When the surgery is over and all the associated bills have been paid (including the wages of my game creators),
I will donate any and all leftover money to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.
SLRP is a legal aid organization that advocates for "low-income people of color who are transgender, intersex, or gender non-conforming." SLRP is a tremendous organization that helps people who are far less privileged than myself.
Feel free to donate well beyond the stretch goal. If I reach the goal, I'll be publicizing the IndieGoGo as a way to raise money for SRLP, using the flashiness of our cool Super Vagina Time game to get the Internet interested in helping out low-income trans* folks.
Details and Disclosures
Transparency and honesty are the core principles of this fundraising campaign. I attend Emory University and I'm covered under our student health insurance plan. Thanks to remarkable transgender advocacy on campus, my health insurance plan covers both psychological counselling and hormone replacement therapy. The plan also covers a percentage of transgender surgeries depending on whether the surgeon is in network or out of network.
My procedure is on April 23rd, 2014. After the first of the year, my surgeon will begin pre-authorizing the procedure with my insurance provider and it would be comforting to have the money on hand at that point. I'm raising the money early so that I can relax, be prepared and so that I can make arrangements that fall within my budget. More importantly, if I fail to raise the money this fall, I'll need extra time to take out loans and credit cards to cover all of my costs.
Cost of the Procedure
In the case of my surgeon, the plan should cover 80% of a procedure quoted to me at $20,000: $4,000. However, the only student to go through sex reassignment surgery under this health insurance plan was then charged another $4,000 in hospital and other fees: $8,000. That's what I've set as the main goal.
This is nowhere near the total cost of this endeavor. There may be other medical costs associated with the procedure: hair removal on the genitals, precautionary tests or procedures for my heart condition, what-have-you. I will also have to travel to the location of the surgery (thousands of miles away) and I will have to find lodging for my convalescence. I won't be able to work for about a month. Someone needs to take care of me and help me dilate my vagina (the subject of Super Vagina Time).
I would also like to be able to fly my partner out for the procedure and convalescence. She's a student to works part-time to pay for her tuition. She wouldn't be able to afford covering travel expenses on this income while being away from work. Having her by my side would mean the world to me. She'd be able to hold my hand before I went under and she'd be smiling at me when I woke up.
All this is to say that if the proceeds of this campaign exceed $8,000, the money will be put to good use and will not be used for any raucous parties. Overall, this whole trip will cost somewhere in the ballpark of $12,000-$14,000.
What Happens to Extra Money?
I've set the stretch goal for the game at $15,000 because I'm confident that will be enough to cover all of my costs and leave me with enough leftover to pay Cameron, Brigid and an artist.
When the surgery is over, and all the bills and game-makers are paid, I will donate any and all leftover money to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.
Extra money will absolutely not be spent outside of the surgery trip or the game. I'm taking this campaign very seriously and, as mentioned, I'll be publicly posting documentation for all expenses.
Where Does the Money Go?This campaign runs on a flexible funding model which means I will receive money even if I don't reach my goal. All money raised will be saved toward surgical expenses.
It will go into a separate savings account that I will not use for anything else. I will show this account balance to several trustworthy folks at regular intervals and they will verify that I'm not using it for buffalo wings and ice cream sandwiches.
Receipts and documentation for everything the money is used for (with account numbers and personal info redacted, of course) will be posted publicly in updates to this campaign.
Acknowledging My Privilege
I want to be clear that I am incredibly fortunate to have a health insurance plan that covers a large portion of the cost of surgery. Other folks need care more than I do and I'd encourage you to seek out and contribute to other IndieGoGo campaigns as well. My addition of the potential SRLP donation is a way to try to use some of my visibility for other folks as well.
I also want to disclose that I come from an upper-class family that would typically swoop in to help me with life-saving medical expenses. The catch is that my parents are devout Mormons who have told me that transitioning was "the worst decision I can possibly make in my life." I'm on my own for this. And my grad student stipend checks are nowhere near large enough for costly medical procedures.
With those disclosures in mind, I'm asking for your help. If you like the work that I do, if you've enjoyed something I've made, this is a way for you to dramatically improve the quality of my life in return. You'll never forget that you were a part of this and I'll never quit thanking you.