Monday, 13 April 2009

This Time it's Personal

From iNews 880 am
Edmonton woman leads Gender Reassignment funding lawsuit
5:00PM 4/12/2009

As Alberta dives into a recession many things had to be cut from the provincial budget. That includes cutting funding for gender reassignment surgeries for Albertans with Gender Identity Disorder. The move saves about $700,000 in the provincial budget.

Edmontonian Sarah King, 33, is meeting with lawyers this week to file a lawsuit against the Alberta Government. Her own surgery was scheduled for next January, but without funding she won't be able to afford the procedure she says is way more than just cosmetic. "Without the surgery, we're caught in transition, we're caught as abnormal people in society. We're discriminated against. People have lost jobs, they have been disowned by family, they have lost friends. The surgery is so important, that without it, people could die. It's called suicide."

King hopes to get an injunction that would force the government to fund gender reassignment. She says about 20 people have joined the class-action lawsuit, and more sign up every day.

The Government of Alberta plans to spend $36.4 billion in the 2009 budget. King says the $700,000 needed to fund gender reassignment is petty change in comparison.

Meanwhile, King is urging all Albertans to support and sign a petition to re-list Sex Reassignment Surgery Funding in Alberta

My reply
I know two women in Alberta, you see .who are directly affected by this.

Women who have jumped through all the hoops, seen the psychs, gone through endocrine treatments, gotten first one and then another letter of permission saying that for them, genital reconstruction surgery is a medical necessity. It's a process that takes years. There's no other surgery where you have to prove your sanity to not just one, but two psychiatrists, no other medical treatment that makes you wait for years before you can even get on the waiting list. Only after surgery can they reduce the hazardous levels of medication they have to take, levels that carry real risk to their lives. And now, at the last hurdle, the hope that they've lived in for many years has been dashed - for 19c.

As the medical standards of care state, "Sex reassignment is not "experimental," "investigational," "elective," "cosmetic," or optional in any meaningful sense."

Alberta is not exactly a hotbed of liberalism. When I visited your province not that long ago from Australia, I thought "Great, a place which embraced conservative values, but also recognised medical reality, even if it was embarrassing and uncomfortable". My kind of place. To see it step backwards for 19c is... well, it's disappointing. OK, it will result in some deaths, and has already caused untold misery to my friends, but that's par for the course in most parts of Canada. Even though the data we have shows that sex reassignment surgery pays for itself over 5 years, the recurring cost of not providing it is higher than the one-off surgery cost. A good investment return, over 15% compounded. But politically a hot potato that few conservative governments have had the courage to pick up.

Now you've dropped it, and the long-term costs will be compounded by the inevitable human rights suits, win or lose. As I said, it's disappointing. I had thought better of you.
The cost of the surgery is 19c per taxpayer per year.

I ask all readers of this blog to go to the petition site and make their views known. As a personal favour to me, and my friends in Edmonton, Alberta.


Nicole said...

"Without the surgery, we're caught in transition, we're caught as abnormal people in society."

I've signed the petition, but look, I don't believe it's in our general best interests to be backing claims that we're "abnormal", or that having surgery makes us "normal".

Danielle said...

Poor K. Very sorry to hear this news, Zoe.

Zoe Brain said...

Nicole - see Lies To Children.

A lie-to-children is an expression that describes the simplification of technical or difficult to understand material for consumption by children. The word "children" should not be taken literally, but as encompassing anyone in the process of learning about a given topic, regardless of age. It is itself a simplification of certain concepts in philosophy of science.

Because life and its aspects can be extremely difficult to understand without experience, to present a full level of complexity to a student or child all at once can be overwhelming. Hence elementary explanations tend to be simple, concise, or simply "wrong" — but in a way that attempts to make the lesson more understandable.

Danielle - Yes, I'm worried about K. She's been so heroic, fighting her battles with the Canadian Passport Office to ensure others are given rights. It's so incredibly unfair that after so many years of jumping through all the hoops, she suddenly gets told "Ha Ha, Fooled You!" at the finishing line.

Mercedes is in a similar situation.

This will not stand.

RadarGrrl said...

I'm assuming at least one of these is known to me as well. I wish her the best of luck in the fight. This really sucks. Obviously, I have signed.

MgS said...

The bad news is that Alberta's current government is unlikely to listen to anything.

The good news is that this is bringing our transsexual population together. Including the professionals we deal with.

RadarGrrl said...

While you're at it, tell her I say hello, even though I'm pretty sure she and the rest of them detest me.

Mercedes said...

Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts, Zoe.

There is one hope for an early resolution, which is that Albertans recognize the potential costs of a battle and have been there before in the 1990s with Delwin Vriend (a case which saw the province lose in Canada's Supreme Court and resulted in HRC protections on the basis of sexual orientation). There are a lot of people who don't really want to go down that path again.

sumptos devil s advocate said...

Or Alberta can end its universal healthcare system and its other socialist programs and allow the free market to pave the way, graudally lowering the costs of surgeries and the like (though that might be difficult if Canada keeps its fiat money system).

MgS said...

free market to pave the way, graudally lowering the costs of surgeries and the likeOh yes, just like it's worked in the United States?

As an aside, the Alberta gov't cannot just drop the health care - not unless certain federal legislation is repealed - an unlikely event, even with Stephen "Little Bush" Harper in power.

Mercedes said...

A concession of a sort today. But there is some legal strategy why they're doing this. Ontario's ruling wasn't about the necessity of GRS or the community's rights, it was about a patient's reasonable expectation of surgery after beginning transition. This grandfathers through the people with the best legal arguments in hopes that the "weaker" legal arguments (in terms of the concept of reasonable expectation of treatment) can be defeated.

It looks like a victory if followed through, but the plot has actually thickened.

Sevesteen said...

I'm not a supporter of socialized medicine in general, and I don't know if the cost/benefit ratio of this surgery is the best use of limited funds However, it is unconscionable to run people halfway through this process with the promise of surgery, then renege.

Christine said...