Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Canada: TRANSSEXUALS fighting to have province pay for sex change

Expand Messages
  • Mrs. Petra Henderson
    ... http://groups.yahoo.com/group/transgendernews Meryl Sizemore wrote: Calgary Sun, Canada
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2003
    • 0 Attachment
      --- In transgendernews@yahoogroups.com,
      "Meryl Sizemore" <merylsizemore@h...> wrote:

      Calgary Sun, Canada


      Transsexuals fighting to have province pay for sex change operations


      TORONTO (CP) - Four transsexuals who say the Ontario government's
      decision to stop funding sex change operations in 1998 left them
      trapped halfway between the sexes will have their case heard this

      Martine Stonehouse, a support worker with the Toronto school board,
      said she couldn't afford to finish her transition from male to
      female after the province removed sex-reassignment surgery from the
      list of procedures covered by medicare five years ago.

      Now she and three other transsexuals will go before the Ontario
      Human Rights Commission to try to force the government to fund and
      finalize their sexual transformations.

      "To leave any patient halfway through a recognized medically
      necessary procedure is medically and morally unethical no matter
      what the condition is," said Stonehouse, who prefers to be referred
      to as a female.

      The Ontario government stopped funding sex-reassignment surgery -
      which reconstructs the genitalia - on Oct. 1, 1998.

      Prior to that date, Ontarians could have their surgery paid for
      provided they went through a standardized two-year program that
      included: psychological assessments, hormone treatment, and a "real
      life test" in which patients had to live as the other gender, full
      time, for one year.

      The Gender Identity Clinic at the Centre for Addiction and Mental
      Health in Toronto would then approve patients for the government-
      funded surgery.

      Between 1980 and Sept. 30, 1998, about six or seven surgeries were
      recommended by the clinic each year, at a combined annual cost to
      taxpayers of about $122,000.

      When the government stopped funding the operation, a limited clause
      gave coverage to those who had been approved by the clinic, but
      hadn't undergone surgery.

      "People who we had written letters of approval for prior to that
      date did get their surgeries covered but that was a limited number,"
      said Maxine Petersen, a psychological associate at the clinic.

      "There were a lot of people who were in the process and hadn't
      reached that point of approval, but were certainly headed in that

      Stonehouse was caught in that awkward position. She began living
      full time as a woman in 1987 and started hormone treatments, which
      caused her breasts to grow, voice to raise, and sex drive to drop
      about ten years later.

      She wasn't approved by the clinic before the funding was dropped,
      and said she can't afford the surgery - which can cost up to
      $20,000 - on her own.

      Stonehouse said the government should pay for the surgery since it
      is a medically recommended solution for her condition, which makes
      her feel like she's a woman trapped in a man's body.

      The outcome of the hearing will likely hinge on whether or not sex-
      reassignment surgery is deemed a "medically necessary" procedure - a
      designation that makes a procedure fundable under the Ontario Health
      Insurance Plan.

      "I would say 'medically necessary' would probably be the main
      criteria that led to (the surgery's) de-listing," said Health
      Ministry spokesman John Letherby, adding that the decision would
      have been made by an "adequate and fair cross-section" of medical
      professionals who are hired annually to make those kind of

      But lawyer Susan Ursel, who will represent three of the complainants
      when the hearing begins on Sept. 23, said the government's decision
      was "inhumane" because her clients suffer from a medically
      recognized disorder.

      "They've taken a stance that doesn't seem to be supported by the
      majority of medical professionals in the field," said Ursel.

      "These people have been diagnosed with a gender identity disorder.
      They have a profound disjuncture between the gender identity (that)
      society may have assigned them and who they feel they really are,"
      she said.

      "So expecting them to conform . . . comes about only through extreme
      personal sacrifice by them."

      Petersen, who has been working at the Gender Identity Clinic for the
      last 20 years, agrees.

      "Nobody would choose this as a preferred way of living if they had
      the choice," she said. "This would not be it, because there are too
      many painful, painful losses."

      Petersen said that may be why the clinic's active case load - about
      250 to 300 people at any given time - didn't drop even after the
      surgery was de-listed.

      Canadian provinces that cover the costs of the surgery include
      Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Newfoundland.
      --- End forwarded message ---
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.