Edmonton woman leads Gender Reassignment funding lawsuit
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
I know two women in Alberta, you see .who are directly affected by this.The cost of the surgery is 19c per taxpayer per year.
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.
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.