Friday, May 16, 2008

Ontario to re-instate funding for sex change operations

I think this is the right move. Delisting OHIP funding for sex change operations 10 years ago seemed vindictive and petty, considering the tiny cost to the provincial treasury, and more inspired by the "Us versus Them" approach to public policy under Mike Harris.

A good friend of mine is a F-M transsexual. I met him when he was female and we both worked for one of the worst employers we both ever had. Despite the working conditions, we hit it off and became good friends. Several years ago, he took me aside and told me he'd always thought of himself as male, even though he had been born female (and was still at that time). He told me how he used to look in the mirror before puberty hit and see himself as a boy. Once puberty hit, it was downhill from there, depression set in and many years of anxiety and confusion. For him, sex re-assignment surgery was very necessary for his mental health.

For me, this is an issue of compassion and acceptance of reality. While $20,000 in one-time funding isn't much for the province to provide, it is a huge expense for individuals struggling to make ends meet.

There are, of course, many other urgent health care needs that the province should fund for the mental health and betterment of all Ontarians (IBI programming for autistic children being one that easily comes to mind, which the McGuinty government has shamefully failed to improve as promised).

But a good policy decision should be applauded and this is one.

5 comments:

Mushroom said...

Matt,

Queen's Park wasn't that bad of an employer, was it ;)????

Seriously, I would love to see Dion take the gauntlet to Harper and demand that sex change operations be covered under the Canada Health Act. If not, it should be contested under Section 15 of the Charter.

I know a colleague in my grad school days who was doing sociological research on the rights of transgendered individuals. These rights need to be expanded.

Matt Guerin said...

Hi Edward - It was actually a private small business. The worst when we ever experienced in terms of workers' rights and respect.

I definitely agree human rights protections for transgendered/transsexual persons in Canada needs to be strengthened.

Dante said...

When health services have been taken away and others such as regular prostate cancer testing is not covered on top of being burdened by a tax icrease, this appears to be the most obscene action I have ever seen.

Gender confusion is a mental health issue. Deal with it that way. This will most certainly blow up in their face.

Matt Guerin said...

I wouldn't call this move obscene under any circumstances. The cost is $200,000 total per year. What's the cost of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Testing for every man that requests one? Huge.

Although the Liberals did promise last year to bring in testing for all men over 50.

http://www.thestar.com/OntarioElection/article/261865

The annual cost of extending the PSA test to all Ontario men over 50 is estimated to be $30 million, which Smitherman said would come from general government revenues. The province's health tax would help pay for the tests, he added.

I'd support this too.

Mushroom said...

"Gender confusion is a mental health issue."

All the more so for Harper to listen to the Kirby Commission's findings and fund better treatment for mental health. Smitherman should now go cap and hand and whine at Clement.