Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Private Parts, Public Matters

Genitalia in all its glory has been all the rage in the news as of late. Get your mind out of the gutter folks because these are medical concerns we’re talking about here and not sexy times.

First things first, the Ontario government has announced that they will now be paying for sex reassigned surgery (SRS) or “sex change operations” as the laypeople call ‘em. The procedures used to be covered but good o’l Mike Harris got rid of that a decade or so ago. But now, they’re back! And they’re covered.

According to reports, there are only a dozen or so SRS performed every year in this province. These surgeries are also at the end of a long list of procedures, examinations and testing that is performed on a person before they are allowed to proceed with SRS.

I think it’s no surprise that I support this 100%. And if I didn’t support it, then I certainly would have after reading the long list of hate filled comments on both the CBC, Globe and Mail and Citizen websites. One look at these comment pages indicates why access to SRS is so incredibly important. Transphobia is alive and well folks, and so why would anyone choose such a route unless it was what they truly needed?

People have been lamenting the already strained Health Care system and how this is only adding to the strain, and “why not reinstate my optometrist coverage or reduce wait times?!” they cry (usually anonymously under pseudonyms like “CanuckWithAnOpinion”, but I digress).

A loved one of mine is on a long waiting list for much needed cancer surgery and hey, yours truly wears glasses. So I know what it’s like to live in a shabby system. I can’t even imagine how parents of autistic children or low-income families survive in this system. It’s broken and it needs fixing.

But SRS isn’t going to affect those people. Not just any Dr. can perform SRS and there are few specialists in Canada who can. Therefore, your cancer doctor isn’t going to be taken away from your chemo treatments to perform SRS. Furthermore, according to the government itself, there are only a dozen or so procedures a year, as I mentioned earlier, for a total cost of 200,000$ a year. 200 000 a year. Total. Not for each person but in total.

Now think of those who are unable to access SRS and who desperately need it. They are stuck in low-income positions, are depressed and most often, commit suicide. Not to mention the high rates of violence committed against them. Measure those costs to the welfare state and then get back to me.

And for the love of Pete, can news reports refrain from shouting out “SEX CHANGE OPERATIONS NOW PAID FOR”. Its archaic terminology and sensationalist as hell, which only furthers the transphobia.

Part Two: In-Vitro Fertilization, should it be paid for, too?

1 comment:

LV said...

Thanks for posting on this! I find that whenever random readers comment on trans issues and sex reassignment surgery, they usually offer up ignorant and polemic diatribes without any sort of critical analysis, and further, are based on extrapolations from sensationalist news media and the entertainment industry.

That being said, when someone actually does their research into SRS, they will find that the system is shitty from just about every angle. Firstly, in order to qualify for said surgery, that person must be declared to have a "Gender Identity Disorder". The pathologization of trans folk is super problematic because it displaces the responsibility from the collective society who can't think beyond their gender binaries, and firmly places "the solution" onto the body of the individual trans person.

Ontario's decision to cover SRS is basically two steps forward, one step back. It allows some people--who, by virtue of their already marginalized status are often of lower economic means--to access this surgery, but simultaneously requires them to declare themselves "sick" in need of a "cure".