1. Health
Jennifer Heisler, RN

Surgery Blog-Tyra Give Free "Sex Change" Gender Reassignment Surgery For Free to Top Model Contestant Isis King

By November 17, 2008

Follow me on:

Isis King, a contestant on the 11th season of America's Top Model, was born male but states "mentally... I was going female". Like many transgendered people, Isis felt female inside, even though the outside was clearly male, and has planned for the day when gender reassignment surgery could be performed.

King has not had an easy life. In addition to the stress caused by feeling like a woman in a man's body, she was homeless when she was selected to appear on America's Top Model. Unable to afford the expensive surgery (it is not covered by insurance) Isis has been living as a woman, but physically remained male.

That will change soon, as Isis will be having surgery, thanks to Tyra. On Tuesday's episode of The Tyra Banks show, Tyra gives Isis the surgery she has dreamed about, gender reassignment surgery.

The surgery will be performed for free by Dr. Marci Bowers, who has undergone this surgery herself, transitioning from a man to a woman just as Isis plans.

Transgendered individuals are often unable to afford the surgery commonly known as a "sex change" which can include a mastectomy, hysterectomy, breast augmentation, and/or significant plastic facial reconstruction in addition to the surgery that alters the genitals. As this surgery is not "medically necessary" the patients must pay out of pocket, a daunting prospect when surgery can exceed $100,000 for those who need extensive work done to be passable as the opposite sex.

The show will air November 18th.

Keep up with surgery news and information by signing up for the Surgery Newsletter.

Check out the Surgery Forums for surgery discussions, support and more!

December 26, 2008 at 5:52 pm
(1) Helena Blakemore says:


I’m a young transgendered woman. To make this distinction easier to understand, let me clarify some terms really quick.

Transgendered – a person who’s gender identity doesn’t align with all of the factors that create gender

Gender – created by many factors; i.e. chromosomes, gonads, legal status, social status, and hormonal balance

Cisgendered – a person who’s gender identity has always aligned with all of the factors that create gender.

Isis was never a male, she just had some male characteristics that are thought to be abnormal because they are rare in cisgendered women. However, everyone has a gender identity. Some people think men must be very tough or have big muscles. Some people think that the clean cut male is more stereo-typical. Either way, everyone views male and female slightly differently, because we are all made up of male and female characteristics. Isis, like myself, is just more female than male.

A few other things to point out.

1) It is still very much medically necessary to receive some kind of treatment. Whether that is through surgery or just hormones. Studies have proven that many transgendered individuals who stop treatment, or are refused it, end up in a state of extreme depression. Many of them resort to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain. Consequently, 1 in 10 transgendered people will die before 30 in a violent way. Be that through suicide or homicide. Also, 1 in 12 transgendered people will be murdered before they turn 60.

2) It is usually legal to discriminate against transgendered people in the U.S. Unfortunately, a trans person losing their jobs and homes because of who they are is not uncommon. In my own case, I have been kicked out of business’, told that I couldn’t rent an apartment, and was forced to resign, strictly because of who I am.

If anyone would like to know more, feel free to contact me. Right now, I’m working with a group of grassroots activists in Southeast Michigan. We’ve started a non-profit called GenderSpark. This organization is committed to educating about gender issues.

email – hblakemore@genderspark.org

Thanks everyone!

February 21, 2010 at 4:28 am
(2) merabi says:

i am trans too.but i cant efford to change sex.i live in georgia and you know how much it costs.one day i will go mad or die,very soon.

November 17, 2010 at 12:07 am
(3) Ms. Jenny Couture says:

I wish I could get just one brake after having to deal with this same issue since I was like five, but now I am 33 and half my life is gone and so is my soul. I wish Tyra or even Opera would be nice and pay for mine too! =(

November 27, 2010 at 7:29 pm
(4) Breeanne says:

Hi ,
I have the same problem and am 44 years old and am now wishing the I wouldn’t ever wake up again.Because I know I will never be able to afford the type of work that I would need done.I just wish I wouldn’t wake up anymore or atleast someone to come allong and generously help me.


March 11, 2011 at 4:18 pm
(5) Morgan says:

I feel the same way,i hate my life and my body but if i could have/afford FFS/GRS then i know that would be a step in the right direction.I know my face and body wouldn’t be perfect but at least i would be a woman,be who i am and i’m supposed to be.I’m 35 and poor and having problems working so how will i ever have the surgery i need?I too wish i would never wake up or that maybe i could travel to the future where the technology to build a new perfect body existed(lol) but realistically i’m facing a horrible whatever remains of my messed up life.Only my faith in God gets me through my dark days trapped in the wrong body,but where is the help for people like us?The government waste money on useless things but wont help people in need,where are the rich to help the poor and needy?All i want is to be a woman.Is that so much to ask? Kaisajouhki@yahoo.com

September 9, 2011 at 1:48 am
(6) Ellyahnna says:

I’m transgender female and African American. I wish everyday that I could afford my sex change/ gender reasignment. I’m on hormones have breasts and long hair. I have had a very had time. I was homeless, assaulted and harrassed but I could never imagine being any other way. I don’t have the money to complete my op but plan to keep trying dispite the hardship. I always try to keep up with any talj shows or other things that may help.

November 28, 2011 at 2:31 am
(7) Amanda says:

I to am transgendered/intersexed. At the moment i am homeless, if not for my work, i would not even have a roof over my head….I drive a truck for a living( if you can call this living)…..The company does not know about my condition….
It takes all the energy i can get up each day to face the world, and not to drive this truck off the side of a cliff….Their are alot of times when it is so tempting to do so…..And i always feel if i did no one would ever care or even miss me if i did it…..
I dont want my surgery to be paid for by someone else….I would just like some help in paying for the differant surgeries it would take to complete the change…..
As it is now we cant get loans or grants to pay for them, and medical insurace is a joke when it comes to what they cover and dont cover…..We pay for it we should have the say as to what they cover for us….Not the corperations, and general public…..Its sad they want our money then want to tell us what they will cover…..
When will society realize this is just another birth defect….One that can be corrected…..
Its not like we asked to be this way, but we are….
Its sad most of society feels we dont have a right to live, and in some cases even try and sometimes succeeed at causing our deaths….Some even go as far as murder…And the police say its ok….
to society we are disposable….to bad we cant look at them the same way.

January 17, 2012 at 1:49 pm
(8) Henry missy says:

I am Henry aka missy been trans since ten. I always dream of transforming, however, the cost is so ridiculous. To be honest I could’ve paid for it however that would have meant taking away from my family whom I dearly love. Most of them know I crossdress and I’ve told some of the dream, however, at work I’m a garbage man for a local town. My brows tweezed my clothing questionable yet no remarks great co workers make a few jokes now and then. I take it in stride I dont let it get to me. Why? Because I’m a great person no matter my desires or feelings. About all this “I don’t want to wake up” crap–it is a cop out–a way of giving up letting the bad people win. Get off the shi%%er cowgurl up life goes on whether we are here or not, whether we are gay or trans or Lesbian or Straight, the world does not stop for no one.

July 1, 2013 at 1:39 am
(9) carol says:

so true i feel the same way but yet i get up on a daily basis and find something to keep my mind busy and i am thankful for the man in my life i am now turning 38 in Aug 2013 and know i only have a few years left were it will matter whether i get the surgery or not and this point in my life i live with it for so long i feel empty on the inside kinda like being a zombie ”empty shell” and it;s sad but it’s the truth i am alone in this fight for my transgender life and it’s dam hard and lonely

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.