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Long delays in changing sex weigh on the mental health of trans people

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Kim Fuery has known she’s a trans person since she was a teenager. She came out of the closet a year ago and has been on the waiting list for genital surgery ever since.

She explains that her gender dysphoria is growing more and more, as well as her desire to transition.

In Alberta, in order to get genital surgery, you need two pre-approval letters from two licensed psychiatrists. As for chest surgeries, they require a doctor’s letter.

The waiting time to access a clinic specializing in gender issues is approximately two years.

sense of urgency

[Le désir de transitionner est] a gradual process, a sort of self-thought, wish, desire, longing until it burns. »

A quote from Kim Fuery

Lou-Ann Morin, member of the Order of Psychologists of Quebec, maintains that once a person undertakes the steps for surgery, it is inhabited by a feeling of urgency.

They may have waited 15 years, 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, 50 years. At that point, there is a sense of urgency, things have to go quickly. »

A quote from Lou-Ann Morin, psychologist

It’s a very difficult time, the transition, before gender affirmation is complete. So that period can be painful because there are a lot of prejudices, people don’t dare to assert themselves. It’s sure that everyone can’t wait for it to endexplains the psychologist.

She adds that transgender people often have more mental health issues than cisgender people before the operation, while afterward they come back to average.

After self-medicating for years to drown her discomfort, Kim Fuery now turns to sport, art and the support of her community, in particular thanks to the organization Skipping Stoneswhich offers community, resources, tools to help trans people and their families through the transition.

As I often say, it’s not hard to have a trans child, it’s hard to be in a system that has no place for him, that’s what’s hard, it’s to find one’s way, in the systemexplains Lindsay Peace, the director of the organization.

Lindsay Peace, in Calgary, in 2022.

Lindsay Peace is the CEO and co-founder of Skipping Stones. After her son told him he was a trans person, she realized how under-resourced he was for people like him and their families and started the organization.

Photo: TurnedNews.com

Meanwhile, Kim Fuery hopes that his operation will not take too long.years, I have52″,”text”:”I worry about the passage of time. My father died at 69, I’m 52″}}’>I worry about the passage of time. My father died at 69, I am 52she says.

She is thinking of turning to the United States or Thailand to have access to a service that she would pay for out of her own pocket.

Genital surgeries offered only in Montreal

Alberta Health is offering one-time, lifetime funding to eligible Albertans who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and meet program criteria to undergo phalloplasty, metoidioplasty or vaginoplasty.

For people living in Alberta, genital sex reassignment surgeries are only offered in Quebec, at the Montreal Metropolitan Surgery Center.

In an email, Emilie Potts, the Centre’s director of pre-postoperative organizational and clinical development, says that the delays between the moment patients start the process and the moment they obtain their complete file is beyond the Centre’s control and can influence on the waiting time for an operation.

One surgeon, 288 patients waiting

Martin Giuffre is one of the only plastic surgeons who perform chest surgeries for transgender people in Alberta.

Last spring, 288 people were waiting to have a consultation with him.

According to him, few doctors do this type of operation in the province because it does not pay enough for them.

The surgeons have been in negotiations with the Alberta government since 2017 to secure better payouts. It is a very slow and arduous process. We’re not making much progresssays Dr. Giuffre.

Dr. Martin Giuffre in Edmonton in 2022.

Martin Giuffre is one of the only plastic surgeons who perform chest surgeries for transgender people in Alberta. The fact that this type of operation is less remunerated discourages surgeons from performing them.

Photo: TurnedNews.com / Richard Marion

In an email, Charity Wallace, spokesperson for the government, explains that things have not changed because you have to be very rigorous in order toensuring access to the best care while supporting a publicly funded healthcare system.

[La province] conducts a thorough review of evidence, economic impact and clinical effectiveness to support the addition of new servicesshe adds.

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