B.C. medical insurance to cover phalloplasty for transgender men

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Rights advocates are welcoming news a surgical penis-construction procedure for transgender men will be paid for by public medical insurance in B.C.

Phalloplasty will be covered under the Medical Services Plan (MSP) for up to five people each year, the provincial Ministry of Health has confirmed.

After previously rejecting calls to provide such coverage, the ministry decided to make the change following a review this year of recent medical literature on the procedure.

Marie Little, chair of the Vancouver-based Trans Alliance Society, described the decision to cover the procedure as “a hopeful sign”.

“Part of gender identity and the whole reason why it’s sometimes called a disorder, or at the very least dysphoria, is because your body doesn’t match your internal identity,” Little told the Straight by phone today (October 5).

“If you’re female-to-male and can’t get the final stage of the medical intervention, your body is never going to match the way you feel it should,” Little said.

“Not everybody who has a gender identity issue feels the need to modify their body completely, but for those who do, it’s important.”

However, Little said transgender men may still face challenges because of the restriction on how many people per year can receive coverage.

“I’m pretty sure at five per year it’s going to be quite a few years before you get to anybody new. It’ll be people who have been waiting impatiently for several years who actually get to go,” Little said.

A health ministry spokesperson said the province has a record of 24 people who have requested the procedure, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

“As this procedure is a new benefit of MSP, we are limiting the number we are funding,” ministry spokesperson Stephen May said in an emailed statement to the Straight today.

“As we get more information about the success and complications from this procedure, we will be reviewing how many procedures we will fund annually.”

Vancouver MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, a vocal transgender-rights advocate, said he has been pressing the B.C. Liberal government for years to cover the procedure.

“The response has always been, ‘Well, it’s experimental. Who knows if it works?’” the Opposition New Democrat MLA told the Straight by phone today.

“When I point out that other jurisdictions have been doing it for years, I would never get a good response as to why what they do doesn’t count in B.C.”

However, he welcomed the decision to cover the procedure under MSP.

“It’s not a massive number of people this is going to impact but for those that it does it’s very important,” Chandra Herbert said.

“I think this illustrates that we’re slowly getting educated as a society around trans health issues and just around trans equality.”

Comments (14) Add New Comment
Yet MSP doesn't cover my teeth. This is an unnecessary operation. A luxury. I understand that they feel like men or women, etc., but lots of procedures aren't covered and installing a fake penis on someone is plastic surgery.

Not impressed.
Rating: -1
The BC government is still discriminating against people with species dysphoria. I feel like a free bird trapped in the body of a clever monkey, yet I am left wingless in the cold, on the ground, in the darkness.
Rating: -10
Nanny Stasi on Steroids
Many people are on waiting list for orthopaedic surgery. Instead on helping people who need surgery, want to earn a living and can't walk, should we instead give people cosmetic surgery like phalloplasty?

Mr Spenser Chandra Herbert makes an excellent salary as an MLA. I would be very grateful if he would donate money towards a phalloplasty charity fund raiser because I know he really feels this is important and sincerely believes will really improve peoples lives.

BTW, I need a nose job, a face lift and liposuction. Can MSP pay for my cosmetic surgery too?
Rating: 0
The Facts
Hey Taxpayer I think you need to educate yourself on the subject of transgenderism, ........this is corrective surgery for a birth defect & yes it's been proven that people who suffer from this condition were actually born with a brain thats wired to a gender thats the opposite of their physical sex.
It's far cheaper to provide sex reasignment surgery for transgender individuals as opposed to undergoing a lifetime of councilling for depression, and feeling inadiquate & uncomfortable in your own skin,..
how would you feel if you woke up tomorrow...looked in the mirror & saw a womans body looking back at you & in your mind you knew you were a dude.....you'd probably freak out...............also if you were in a car accident or fire & were disfigured MSP would cover the cost of any corrective surgery.......this surgery is no different and only affects about 1 per cent of the population that results in about 10 surgeries per year so it's hardly a strain on the system........ did you know that there are more people in prison taking advantage of the availability to all kinds of MSP services than there are people who request gender reasignment surgery
each year & another thing.......the government may be funding this surgery but they're also making people jump through many hoops before they give the green light for surgery.......... I saw a relative suffer through this condition & it was horrible ....all this person wanted was to have the world see her as she saw herself....she persisted & jumped through many hoops & is now a happy contributing member of society.......Please educate yourself on this issue or any issue for that fact that you want to comment on before you give your 2 cents as it only makes you look ignorant.......
Rating: +8
Whether you agree with MSP covering it or not, a phalloplasty is NOT cosmetic surgery in the same vein as a nose job or implants etc.
Rating: +10
How many people are really going to take advantage of this and go through with it? It's not really that much $ in the grand scheme of things and it would put BC in the global forefront of officially supporting transgender rights, which as far as I am concerned, is a good use of my tax dollars.
Rating: +12
This really is chump change compared to the Waste thatthe BC Fieberals have engaged in since taking Office.

* BC Rail Sale Fiasco + Legal Fees in the Millions

* $565 Million for a leaky Tarp Roof at BC Place

* Million for Ferries CEO's & useless Management

* Translink - $170 Million wasted on fare gates

* Billions on the Owe-lympics

* HST FIASCO Billion + wasted.

Make MSP more Efficient Cut Bureaucracy

* Eliminate layers of Bureaucratic Management save 100's of Millions

* Eliminate Paper pushing clerks get Doctors to file Electronically for EVERYTHING including Billing!

* Open BC to foreign trained Doctors who can get a quick Certificate of Competency within 30 days of arriving put them under supervision of local Doctors / Hospitals for 2-3 years to ensure public safety.

* Foreign Doctors are discouraged from coming here due to to Monopoly mindset of BC College of Physicians trying to keep wages super high via limited supply of local Doctors.

Eliminate the waste!
Rating: +9
Mike d
Horseshit!!! Pay for your own fake penis! A birth defect my ass. I google searched images of post op results. They don't look natural, their the scariest looking penis"s in the world, so glad my tax job is paying to make fake cocks that have no sense of feel and don't get hard. This is a much better use of my money than paying for I don't know insulin for diabetics???
Rating: -5
this is a good thing.
Rating: +4
I to have body dysmorphya (sp) sorry. All of my life I have wanted my teeth fixed into nice straight and lovely to look at...now in my later years it would be nice to have them fixed so that i don't bite the heck out of the inside of my mouth...that would be so nice. It would also be really nice if I could have gotten my new face mask for my CPAP machine when i got a new CPAP machine as it sits now i had to tie a knot in it to keep it on my head...now which is cheaper giving me a new face mask or paying for heart medication and perhaps doing open heart sugery on me?
Rating: +7
George Neufeld
People stop your whining! Not only is it off topic, it's plain dumb. How is it wrong that anybody else should have their problems addressed, while your life is still not perfect? You go on and on about 'your' tax dollars paying for "their" surgery - Reality check time! Canadian transgender people pay taxes as well. We also pay for dental care, and glasses, and everything else that you have to pay for. All we want is to be able to have the surgery that is medically necessary, to be able to have the completeness of body and soul that every Canadian person has the God-given right to, transgender or not.
Reading that someone else has been granted a right that you don't think they deserve doesn't give you the right to use them as a platform for your selfish cause. Why not do what *I* did, and spend six years of your life trying to change an archaic law, only to be slapped down over and over, and now, (I am one of the six confirmed people who will actually be getting this surgery) I'm going to still have to find some way to raise at least six thousand dollars to pay to fly myself to and from Montreal and pay several thousand dollars for the mandatory recovery clinic after my "free" surgery, then pay for a risky flight back home, and then pay again to go back and have two or three more surgeries... So please, stop telling me about how you have to pay to go to the dentist, or I'll freak out.
Rating: +10
Amy Fox
I'd like to point out that Phalloplasty for cisgendered (i.e. non-trans) men has been covered for decades. If you lost your dick in an accident or to cancer or whatever, MSP would rebuild it. Now the very same surgery is available to trans guys. It's about equality
Rating: +8
With years long wait lists for emergency surgery I take this latest move just another way to break our MSP and privatize it.
Rating: -5
George Neufeld
The thing is, that the people who will be doing Phalloplasties are not ER doctors or heart surgeons.. They're urologists and plastic surgeons... So it really doesn't have anything to do with wait lists for brain or heart surgery. It's really interesting how many people feel like they're educated enough (after doing absolutely no research and asking no questions) about this subject in order to condemn it. ..
Rating: +8
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