An Edmonton woman, who is a former man now doing a PhD thesis on her experiences since her sex-change surgery two decades ago, says it is low-income transsexuals who will suffer the most from the Alberta government’s decision to no longer fund such operations.
Carol Allen says the approximate cost of male-to-female sex reassignment surgery is about $20,000 while it is about four times that for a woman to become a man.
“(Eighty-thousand dollars) is like a mortgage,” says Allen. “For someone who is young, just starting out, it’s hard to come up with $80,000 on a loan to pay for it on their own.”
Even for those who make more money, having to spend that much on the surgery is likely to diminish their quality of life.
“It’s not easy for these people to come up with the money that’s needed.
“We can, but for the direction of female to male, it means they may have to forgo plans for a master’s degree or a PhD. It may mean they have to forgo buying a home, or buying a home like their parents had.”
Allan says transsexuals have been portrayed as needy people lapping up welfare money, unable to stand on their own feet.
But she says transgendered people, like anyone else, run the gamut when it comes to socio-economic status.
Allan, 58, worked as a school teacher for many years before telling the Edmonton Public School board in 1988 that she was going to become a woman.
The first year, she was taken from her post as an elementary teacher and, instead, given the task of teaching English to new immigrants.
“Here would be a safe place to put Carol,” she says of how she interpreted the school board’s move. “Within one year I was finally put back into elementary.”
She taught for 19 more years before retiring.
Now, she hopes her PhD thesis will provide new insight into the transsexual world.
“After my transition, there was simply peace,” she says.
“There was the ability at that point to simply live as Carol and spend all my mental energy on my profession of teaching, and now going for a PhD.”