Sex-change clients file complaints

Five Red Deer and area sex change patients are among three dozen who have filed human rights complaints against Alberta Health for cutting off funding for sex-change surgery.

Five Red Deer and area sex change patients are among three dozen who have filed human rights complaints against Alberta Health for cutting off funding for sex-change surgery.

While gender identity disorder is a medically recognized condition, earlier this year the province decided to stop funding sex-change surgery as a way of reducing health-care expenses.

The province is saving $700,000 this year and $2 million over three years by eliminating the funding.

Dana Moran, of Red Deer, who has already had surgery to become a woman, said the Alberta Human Rights Commission is the only avenue to force the province to reinstate funding.

“My friends and I here are fairly confident that it’s going to be found in our favour,” said Moran on Thursday.

A few years ago the Ontario commission forced that province to restore funding.

A precedent has been set so it’s odd that Alberta would even try when it’s already failed elsewhere in Canada, she said.

Surgery to create female genitalia costs about $20,000 and to create male genitalia is $50,000. Those surgeries don’t include surgery on other parts of the body like breast augmentation or trachea or forehead shaves.

Moran expects the commission to hear the complaints at the end of the year, and the delay may be difficult for people who are already on hormones and waiting for surgery.

“Some are feeling kind of sad right now because they’d like things to be moving. But they just have to kind of learn to wait a bit. These things take a while.”

People can still go for the surgery, pay for it themselves, and wait for possible reimbursement. But the cost is prohibitive for many, she said.

For more information or support for people with gender identity disorder in the Red Deer area, call Moran at Turning Point at 403-346-8858.

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