VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – British Columbians looking to get gender-affirming surgery will soon be able to access the procedure here at home.
The province has announced it will offer gender-affirming lower procedures for transgender people in the Vancouver Coastal Health area starting next year, becoming the first province in Western Canada to do so.
While BC has covered the cost of the procedure since the 1980’s, British Columbians have to go to Montreal or leave the country to get it done.
The province also announced on Friday that it’s expanding access to publicly funded gender-affirming chest and breast surgeries to several cities across BC. Currently, it’s only available in Vancouver and Victoria.
“The trans community has advocated over a number of years for improved access to care, including access to complex lower surgeries within B.C.,” said Health Minister, Adrian Dix.
— Adrian Dix (@adriandix) November 16, 2018
“For those seeking lower surgery, people were required to travel to Montreal or to the U.S., resulting in additional medical risks associated with travelling long distance after surgery and in receiving follow-up care if there were complications.”
The province says about 100 people each year leave BC to get gender-affirming lower surgery. Over 200 chest and breast surgeries are expected to take place throughout BC in the coming year.
Announcement means better surgical outcomes: advocate
Morgane Oger, VP of the BC NDP and a transgender woman, who had the procedure several years ago, says the government’s decision to offer the surgery here in BC will save the province money.
“If you can imagine, only the cost of the surgery itself is covered. Later on in 2016 also the recovery stay was paid for, but before then, the province didn’t even pay for the recuperation in hospital,” she said.
“But the most difficult part was they had to fly out to Montreal and within a week of surgery they had to actually fly back and, if you can imagine, it’s a very, very complicated surgery.”
Oger had been advocating for the surgery to be provided here in BC since 2013 and says she’s elated and satisfied the province has decided to make the move.
“It’s gonna give us better surgical outcomes because if there’s a complication, people can come back just to Vancouver to deal with it and it’s going to save an enormous amount of money to people who tend to have, you know, more difficulty accessing jobs so far.”