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Flambé Discovers GoFundMe

Nick and Danny weren’t particularly enamored of Flambé’s request for money to pay for bigger breasts. She asked Nick one night when the two of them were home watching “Friends” reruns on T.V.

“Wow, Flambé, you know I’d do anything for you,” Danny replied. “But that’s a lot of money.” The best he could do under his current situation, he explained, was $500.

She didn’t fare much better with Danny. Cindy’s Lyft income, he told Flambé, was down, and he himself hadn’t gotten the cost-of-living increase he’d expected at Creava. “And this new cottage is costing us a bundle,” he added; Cindy was redecorating, and the PG&E and water bills were unexpected additional expenses. Like Nick (had they rehearsed this, Flambé wondered?), the best Danny could come up with was $500. Then Danny asked his friend, “Have you thought about a GoFundMe account?”

Flambé hadn’t. She didn’t even know what GoFundMe was. She went to the website and opened some of the links to “top fundraisers” and was astonished at what she found.  Here was a midwestern family that had raised nearly $250,000 to establish a memorial fund for a Dad who’d perished fighting a fire. Another fund had raised $90,000 for a pet adoption center. True, Flambé couldn’t find an instance of someone raising money for breast enhancement surgery, but she did find a campaign in which more than $100,000 had been raised for surgery to repair the cleft palate on a Burmese baby. It was easy enough to establish a GoFundMe account; Flambé set up a Facebook page and wrote her summary page this way:

Dear community,

Hi, I’m Flambé, a transgender woman living in Oakland. As part of my transition, I’d like to enhance my breasts, but the cost right now is prohibitive. This is very important to me, and with trans people under attack in this country by a repressive, rightwing Trump administration, it’s important for trans people and our supporters to band together to help one another. Won’t you help me fight back against LGBTQ oppression? Please consider contributing whatever you can afford, and know that your precious dollars will go to a good cause. God bless.

Yes, it was a little phony and manipulative, Flambé realized; the language about being part of the pro-LGBTQ movement was an exaggeration, to say the least, and the claim that paying for Flambé’s breasts was an anti-Trump move made her giggle to herself. As for the God bless part? Well, Flambé meant it, even though she herself didn’t particularly believe in a Deity. But Flambé, who had good instincts at communication, had learned from Devon that the best politics is based on stirring metaphors that touched people’s hearts, even if these were often hyperbolic. Besides, what had she to lose? So she published her GoFundMe appeal and waited to see what would happen.

* * *

Anticipating an influx of cash, Flambé emailed a Mexican clinic she found online: La Casa de Pechos was in Cuernavaca, in the mountainous foothills south of Mexico City. It was an old, colonial city, with museums and good restaurants and even some nightlife (not that Flambé anticipated any of that, but it was good to know).

The clinic was run by a Dr. Lopez; the website had testimonials from clients, most of whom seemed to be highly satisfied by the results. Dr. Lopez claimed to have a medical degree from Tulane University; his clinic, he said, catered especially to non-Spanish-speaking Americans. The cost for a two-breast enhancement was $9,500, an amount that could be higher if complications set in. La Casa de Pechos was accepting appointments for the coming Spring, three months hence. Patients’ medical and financial records would first have to be submitted for review. Flambé’s email to Dr. Lopez simply inquired what her next steps ought to be.

Perhaps the doctor had been monitoring his emails at that moment, for his reply immediately came in. He thanked her for her interest and attached a questionnaire for Flambé to fill out. She promptly did. Later that day, Flambé walked her dogs (four this time, around Lake Merritt), and under the warming May sun, she took particular delight in feeling the Spring heat, after a cold winter. When she got back home, she checked her new GoFundMe account, and was flabbergasted to find that $3,250 had come in, in its first three hours of existence.

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