Ian Giles was in his late 20s, divorced, and a single parent when he realized he is transgender. Being able to afford top surgery was not something he thought he could do on his own. So he came up with the idea to sell wristbands to his friends to help with the surgery costs.
“That kind of evolved, and I ended up getting a booth at the Utah Pride Festival,” Giles told KTVX reporter Rosie Nguyen. “On the application form, they asked for a name of the organization. So I thought, well, they are wristbands, and they’re gender-related, so I guess Genderbands.”
“At that Pride festival, meeting all of these people who were so excited and supportive of the idea of a fundraiser for top surgery, I thought, ‘You know what, this is something that can really work.'”
Giles continued his fundraising efforts past his own surgery and, now six years later, it has grown into a national group that provides grants for surgeries, binders for female-to-male transgender people who have not done surgery to reduce the size of their busts, and a Transgender Pride — possibly the only one in the nation.
Top surgery can be anywhere from $4,500 to $12,000, Giles said. That is just for the surgery costs, not anesthesia, hospital bills, time off of work, and travel.
Due to the lack of festivals and events because of the pandemic, Genderbands is having to get creative for their fundraising. They are hoping that, for their sixth anniversary, people will donate $6 towards their $6,000 goal.