Alberta Delists Gender Reassignment Surgery Funding

This is a quick note for Canadian readers and those interested on the way of things for transfolk up here.

On April 7th, 2009, the Province of Alberta has delisted funding for GRS surgery.  I’m awaiting confirmation as to whether this affects people in the queue, and how much of our medical process is affected.  A number of us will be narrowing down our best options and seeking advice.

For people affected by this change, keep in mind that the American Medical Association restated the necessity of GRS this past fall, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission ordered funding reinstated in that Province last spring.  There is reason to keep hope.
 
I’m looking for information about Albertans who are in the queue for 2009-2010 (this year), and/or who expect that they likely would receive funding for surgery in this or the following year. 

DON’T LOSE HOPE.  There is reason to hold on.

    • Diane
    • April 8th, 2009

    Well, it’s quite a blow to find this out just before getting in the queue. It does seem that the Provincial HRCs up here are not taking ‘no’ for an answer, so the removal of the funding might be temporary—just until someone files a complaint or they manage to balance the budget on time.

    Sooner or later, politicians will take us seriously.

    • Shannon Blatt
    • April 9th, 2009

    A quick bit of info from a friend in Edmonton who was approved for surgery and only awaiting her formal funding approval, plus a quick correction on one point, if I might:

    So, first…I was told today by someone who spoke to AB gov’t officials today that grandfathering of people in the queue will be minimal and limited to those who are already partway through a surgical procedure (e.g. a multi-stage phallo procedure will not be interrupted, but people already approved for surgery and just awaiting their date will NOT have their surgery funded. Atrocious! here’s hoping that info turns out to be wrong.

    Second, the Ont. Human Rights Commission didn’t order GRS reinstated. The OHRC doesn’t issue such orders. It was the Ont. Human Rights Tribunal which ordered an extended grandfathering of coverage for those who were already in the CAMH gender program on the date of delisting. Total reinstatement was NOT ordered. The Ont. government did, finally, however, relist the surgery in May 2008, but they did so voluntarily.

    Folks in AB should consider a human rights complaint or Charter challenge. Links to the Ontario human rights cocmplaint decisions can be found here:

    http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onhrt/doc/2005/2005hrto49/2005hrto49.html
    (interim bottom-line decision on merits and giving remedy, pending
    provision of full reasons)

    http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onhrt/doc/2006/2006hrto32/2006hrto32.html
    (full reasons for decision)

    Good luck and keep up the fine work! If there’s anything a born/raised Albertan trans woman who has been an Ontarian for the past 20 years and is now a British Columbian as of the past few weeks can do to help out, let me know. (I’m also a lawyer, though that’s not so relevant really.) I’m totally pissed in solidarity with the Alberta community!!

  1. The minute I heard that Alberta was going to have run a deficit I knew that there were going to be problems. Since it is such a conservative province I am not surprised that cutting grs happened. This is a province that elected Klein after all. Worse us yet to come as you can bet they will use this deficit to attack as many social programs as possible. Hang in there Alberta

    • Cari Hartgerink
    • April 11th, 2009

    I could not be more grateful to our government, finaly they are starting to consider families andsociety as a whole ! Our tax money should not be put toward any such atrocities ! We need more schools and hospitals, we have a homeless problem and gang violence is on the rise. Shall we as tax payers also pay for breast implant surgery as well, or how bout us woman who have had children, i would think that maybe we should be getting then lipo suction to better our bodies too. it is so sad that people are suffering and confused that have allowed themselves to think a different sex will change their lives. yes this surgery changes lives- the lives of their children, the lives of those around them in the work force. I would hate to have my small daughter or myself in a womans bathroom anywhere in the city and have a clearly man dressed as a woman walk in, quite frankly i woulod sue. Any pervert can dress like a woman and claim humanitarian rights and use that to peak at me or my small children. Im glad our government has finaly taken the step to protect us Canadians and our families. please do not support or pay for this surgery, maybe we should put that money towards some serious counselling for these people who are clearly sick and confused.

  2. Hello Mercedes I have looked for contact info for you and I was unable to find it. I was wondering if I could interview you for a piece I would like to write about the delisitng for Global Comment. You can reach me at womanistmusings@gmail.com

  3. Carl,
    Transpeople in Alberta pay taxes too

    • Doreen
    • April 15th, 2009

    Carl, that’s just rude. Nobody asked to be this way, but if the gov’t promised funding to someone, then they expect to have it. I didn’t ask people to be homeless, but some of my tax money goes to paying them to look for jobs and provide them with shelter. You don’t hear me complaining. Our taxes go to the need of the people as a general whole and transgendered people are a part of that community.
    I have a friend who HAS a date set, and had funding approved- meaning, she’d received a letter from the province informing her she was on the list and ready to go for June 9/09 and just a couple days ago, received a second letter to let her know that they had cut the program. She has two months to find $25,000.

    So back to you Carl. To make a statement like that is controversial and hateful. They DO go to counseling before their surgeries. It’s required that they are professionally revised through psychological evaluation multiple times (by more then one doctor too, I believe) before getting approved for their surgeries. Do you’re research before you go out spreading your hate and distaste. That being said- whether or not you agree with it, is irrelevant. I’ll use my friend as an example. She is uncomfortable in her own skin and can not live a happy and healthy life as long as she is attached to male genitalia. She doesn’t like it, doesn’t want it there, and doesn’t want to touch someone else’s. So she began this process, doing her research, asking around, and generally checking into it to see if this would be the option for her. Much to her delight, she found out it was recognized and covered by the government. Had she found that it was not, however, she would have then, revised her financial options to make this surgery possible. She had no problem paying for it herself, just like any woman who seriously feels a breast implant would make her more comfortable finds a way to make the $8000 needed for the surgery. But the government GAVE her the letter. They TOLD her it was covered and they were going to help her get on track, and now, they change their minds. Well, her surgery is barely 2 months away how could she possible come up with that $25,000 in that time?
    THAT’S the real despicable act here. That’s just unreasonable and unfair to anybody to play such tricks on one’s heart strings and hopes.

    • Paula
    • April 15th, 2009

    Yes that is right, we all pay taxes.. Yet skinny people in fat people bodies are not getting free liposuction, No breast deficient women are getting free breasts, and Moles are not removed unless they pose concern needing biopsy. Please note that Transgender people get all the same services I do (that’s right, they get to wait just as long as I do in the emergency room). As much as I wish everyone could be who they are inside and out, we simply don’t have the money to pay for it. I have seen many comments on mental issues and suicide rates that come with the feelings of not getting show who you are on the outside however many conditions cause suicidal tendency and depression. The transgender are not alone as Anorexia, Bulimia, compulsive eating, Battered woman’s syndrome, and Low self esteem also cause the same sort of pain. In a perfect world were money is no issue none of these would exist. In this world, you get to pay for it yourself just like everyone else.

    • Doreen
    • April 16th, 2009

    There is nothing wrong with expecting them to pay for it themselves. Just as long as they know. But having 2 months to unexpectedly have to some up with such a huge amount of money is unreasonable. You can’t just drop promises like that. We rely on our gov’t to stick by what they say. We take their word for everything that happens and everything that affects us.

    • Jimmy
    • April 17th, 2009

    Paula, if I could exercise hard enough to grow a penis, I would. Many of the issues you’ve described can be overcome by helping people love themselves as they are, or by procedures that are comparatively inexpensive. Gender Reassignment is not cheap for an individual (only $0.19 per tax payer, if I could cure all the bulimics and anorexics for $0.19 per year I’d do it in a heartbeat) and it is the ONLY way for a transgendered person to be recognized legally as their internal sex. Still waiting on my surgery I don’t carry my ID with me unless I have to because I hate seeing that F, like some failing grade.

    I struggle each time I have to list my sex on paperwork. I feel disjointed from… everything. There is a cure for this, and it costs everyone so little to help us move forward. To let us save our money for things like our rent, or for post secondary. For charities and helping others.

    It’s an amount I would not hesitate to give others to help them. Why is it that others balk so much at helping the transgendered. We don’t raise a stink, we stay out of the way. We open doors for people, hold the elevator for folks. We’re like everyone else, busting our asses to get by. While struggling not to give in to an illness whose treatment should be only a matter of patience and attending your doctors meetings.

    I don’t spend frivolously, but I came from a poor rural background. Even if I could ask my folks for help with this, they couldn’t help. As stands with the only work I can get I can barely afford to meet my rent. I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs. I just work, sleep, and eat. I try to keep $1000 in the bank and it’s a struggle to maintain that. Yet somehow, I’m going to need to suddenly rework everything to try and pay for these surgeries… when I can only spend $100/mo on food? I pay my taxes like everyone else. I work hard, yet times like this I feel like I’m just slipping backward.

  1. May 15th, 2009

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