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Fraternity pays for brother’s sex change operation

(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 John 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.

The response was overwhelming, resulting in almost $16,000, according to the frat’s website. The group is now considering how to spend the extra money, it 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.

“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.

CNN’s Alan Duke contributed to this report.

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