queer eye transgender
queer eye transgender

The First Trans Participant on ‘Queer Eye’ is Suing His Employer for Refusing to Cover His Transition

Skyler Jay broke new ground this year as the first Queer Eye transgender participant on the rebooted series’ second season. Now the Atlanta resident is turning to fans to take a stand for trans rights, while helping to support local queer organizations and cover medical expenses associated with his transition.

queer eye transgender
Skyler Jay is the first trans participant on ‘Queer Eye.’

In a GoFundMe campaign launched this week, Jay revealed that costs associated with his gender-affirming procedures already hit $16,200 before unforeseen complications added thousands more. “Getting my top surgery has been the most important thing in my life for years, and I never would of predicted that my body would have such a horrible reaction to all the drugs I was put on to have the surgery,” he wrote. “During my healing process I have also been dealing with trying to get insurance coverage for my necessary care and surgeries.”

He’s actually bringing a lawsuit against the University System of Georgia to have transgender-specific exclusions removed from the system’s health insurance, but that’s only added to his financial burden. The University System of Georgia oversees 26 public institutions and is governed by the Georgia Board of Regents. The Peach State has been pretty rotten to queers: a federal appeals court in Atlanta ruled this week that gays and lesbians are not protected under federal discrimination laws and ” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>Georgia Republicans have been pushing a “religious freedom” bill that would allow businesses to openly discriminate against the LGBT community.

“Having to spend a week in the hospital, battle with my insurance company/employer for coverage, have a second surgery revision and potentially a third, as well as several months of monitoring my GI tract to ensure my internal bleeding did not reach fatal levels, has all taken a mental, emotional, physical, and financial toll on me,” he shared.

But rather than just take a handout, Jay is paying it forward: He wants to recoup the $8,200 he’s already received in donations and give that money to five queer nonprofits near to his heart.

“Three out of five places—TranscendLegal and Cash and Paisley’s top surgery funds’ donations pages—were up and have already have hit the goals I set,” he revealed. “The remaining two organizations have received several donations totaling a few hundred dollars, already getting them closer to the goals I set: Athens Queer Collective and Southern Fried Queer Pride are organizations close to my heart, and do an incredible job of helping a lot of people in different ways.”

Once he meets his goal of giving back, Jay says, any additional funds will go directly toward his medical debt.

Being the first Queer Eye transgender makeover subject was a life-changing moment for Jay, who told them.us that the Fab Five have been extremely supportive in his journey, even after filming wrapped nearly a year ago.

queer eye transgender
Photo by Skyler Jay

“Through my second surgery, I was having issues with a caretaker not being able to come, and I freaked out and was crying and I called Bobby. He started contacting friends in the area to try to figure out what he could do — all the way from Asia, where he was at the time — to help me out because I was freaking out.”

Now that there’s been a Queer Eye transgender participant, who should the Fab Five reach out to next?