OTTAWA - Today transsexual (Trans) community members gathered at Queen’s Park to express disappointment in a November 28 Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruling that public funding for Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) should be provided to only the three complainants who had been assessed at the Gender Identity Clinic when the procedure was delisted. The fourth complainant’s quest for coverage was dismissed because he was not a client of the Gender Identity Clinic when the service was de-listed on October 1, 1998. Community members urged the government to do the honourable thing by providing funding for SRS and related medical procedures.
Martine Stonehouse, one of the complainants stated, “I cannot begin to express my disappointment over this decision. Transsexuals must be recognized as equal persons in Ontario deserving of equal rights and equal access to healthcare and our medical needs.” Ms. Stonehouse presented a letter to Premier McGuinty which pleaded, “I appeal to you and so does the Transsexual community on humanitarian and compassionate grounds to relist Sex Reassignment Surgery.” Ms. Stonehouse vowed to fight on in support of publicly funded SRS.
Michelle Hogan, another complainant, could not attend. Her statement said, “The important thing now is to make contact with the appropriate medical officials to assist them in understanding that we indeed are experiencing a negative effect on our medical, emotional, social and economic needs and abilities due to the inability / unwillingness of the medical delivery system to respond to our needs.” Ms. Hogan added, “We ask that we be allowed to open dialog with the Health Ministry, the Ontario Medical Association and Ontario Hospital Insurance Program to explain the needs of our small, but marginalized community.”
Greta Bauer, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario said, “Findings from the Trans PULSE Project’s preliminary studies in Ontario echo those of prior studies; they have identified health care access as a primary concern, and an area where trans people experience social exclusion in a way that impacts their well-being to the core.” The Trans PULSE Project is a community-based research project which is exploring the impact of social exclusion on the health of Ontario’s Trans communities. Dr. Bauer added, “For the small group of people who require sex reassignment surgeries, these services represent a medical need absolutely central to physical and mental health.”
Susan Gapka, Chair of the Trans Health Lobby Group (THLG) announced, “We are disappointed with the decision and will continue to advocate for equal health care access for trans people in Ontario. Trans people experience barriers to health care access and have been rendered invisible within the public policy process. We aim to achieve community empowerment and political agency by advocating for our specialised health care needs.” The THGH organised the media conference and is a committee of the Rainbow Health Network, a Reference Group of the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario.
On October 1, 1998 the Provincial government removed funding for Sex Reassignment Surgery without consultation with medical professionals or the transsexual community. On Tuesday, April 19, 2005 an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal Hearing concluded its lengthy proceedings on whether cutting funding was discriminatory. SRS is a medically necessary procedure to complete the transition process from one sex to another and to improve the quality of life for transsexual persons.
Supported by Rainbow Health Network (Reference Group of the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario), Canadian Union of Public Employees, and the Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario.
Company: RAINBOW HEALTH NETWORK