Total(ly awesome, trans rights) frat move

The Emerson College chapter of Phi Alpha Tau definitely wins my (highly prestigious) award for Best Frat Ever. The brothers have raised over $8,100 for a gender-confirming surgery for member Donnie Collins. It’s inexcusable that Donnie’s insurance refused to cover his procedure, and many people don’t have supportive institutions to turn to when money is low.  Still, it’s incredibly heartening to his friends’ efforts, particularly given fraternities’ historical dependence on strict gender policing.

For all the symbolic value, though, Donnie’s “thank you” video reminds us that, at the end of the day, this is about a real person now able to live his life the way he wants:

Donnie is donating excess funds raised to the Jim Collins Foundation, a non-profit that provides trans people with grants for gender-confirming surgeries. Consider contributing here.

New Haven, CT

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX, a national legal education campaign against campus gender-based violence. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, and NPR. Through Know Your IX, she has organized with students across the country to build campuses free from discrimination and violence, developed federal policy on Title IX enforcement, and has testified at the Senate. At Yale Law, Alexandra focuses on antidiscrimination law and is a member of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic. Alexandra is committed to developing and strengthening responses to gender-based violence outside the criminal justice system through writing, organizing, and the law. Keep an eye out for The Feminist Utopia Project, co-edited by Alexandra and forthcoming from the Feminist Press (2015).

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX.

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  • Spencer Koelle

    This certainly had an impact on my generalized antipathy towards fraternities and frat members. It’s like, actually refreshing to see something with a frat that does not contain serious chauvinism.

  • Cade DeBois

    I saw a comment on the Salon article yesterday about this where someone was like, “Yeah, yeah, Emerson is a liberal school in a blue state. Call me when this happens at a mid-west school, blah blah blah” I couldn’t believe this person, who I assume considers themselves some sort of progressive or maybe an ally to LGBTQi folks. Why would they try to just crap all over this like that? It is a big deal, for this particular young man, but also for all these other young men who are helping him. Think about that: in a few years, all of them will be going out into the world having had their lives touched by this one trans person. If that doesn’t shine even the slightest ray of hope in your view of our collective future, you need an attitude check, STAT. Personally, I think I need to grab a tissue…

    This also helps give visiblity to the obstacles trans people face in just trying to live their lives authentically that the rest of us never have to face. No, not everyone is this fortunate–that’s why we need things like insurance, a service we pay for or at least pay into, to cover it. Good god, we autistics have everyone lined up at our doors trying to save us from what they think is a less-than-worthwhile existence (and they refuse to go away no matter how many times we say “no thanks”) and this poor guy’s insurance wouldn’t cover a relatively simple operation to make his life better? Seriously, as a society we need to get our priorities in order.