Transgender man on fundraising mission sets top surgery date after overwhelming support

A transgender man on an agonising five-year waiting list has been ‘overwhelmed’ by an outpour of support which has enabled him to finally book the gender-affirming surgery he has dreamed of.

By Wes Holmes
Thursday, 19th May 2022, 4:55 am

Colby MacLeod, 22, embarked on an icy challenge this month, jumping into a freezing cold pool every day to raise money for top surgery in Istanbul, Turkey.

Since then, the former South Shore Academy pupil says he has been ‘amazed by the support he has received, as he has already raised more than £2,000 of his £4,000 goal.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Colby and his nephew Max

This means he has finally been able to book a date for the operation he has longed for since he came out as transgender in 2016.

He said: “It still feels really surreal. I’ll be going about my day and it will suddenly hit me that I’m actually going to make it. It’s really happening.

"It has given me something positive to look forward to and makes it all worthwhile.

“The support has been overwhelming. I didn’t expect for it to go this far. It’s given me a total different mindset. Anything you put your mind to, you can make it happen.”

Top surgery is a type of gender-affirming reconstructive surgery to remove breast tissue. It is available on the NHS, however, waiting lists extend for up to two years for some surgeons.

It also requires a referral from a specialist at a Gender Identity Clinic, where patients can expect to wait for an average of five years before their first appointment, and must then attend several more appointments before receiving an official diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

Colby was referred to Leeds GIC in 2017 – but after five years without a single appointment, decided to reach out for help on social media service TikTok, where he documents his transition journey and his daily pool dives.

Donating to his fundraiser, Craig Muirhead said: “All the best bud. I hope you manage to smash your target and the surgery is a complete success.”

Deborah Terras said: “I am working alongside your fellow students at South shore Academy who are doing some amazing awareness raising for Blackpool Youth Pride, You are an inspiration to them and all the Blackpool community.”

Colby said: “I wasn’t expecting half the response I’ve got, and there are so many people joining my journey. Before I started I had 8,000 followers and it has gone up to 9,000, so the support has been crazy. I didn’t expect it to blow up as much as it has. Even the people who aren’t able to donate are so supportive.

“I’m very excited. It is a bit scary because I’ve got four months to go and I’ve got quite a way to go. But with the support that I’ve had so far, I believe that it’s going to happen no matter what. Four months time and ill have my freedom that I’ve always wished for.”