With files from Simon Little
Dozens of British Columbians waiting for gender affirmation surgery could have their procedures delayed after the only clinic in Canada offering the specialized surgical procedure was set on fire earlier this week.
Trans advocate Morgane Oger, who had her own gender confirmation surgery at the Montreal private clinic in January, fears the fire will add further delays to an already backlogged system.
“It’s horrible. This would be very, very, very troubling thing to learn if you were waiting in line, and many many people in BC are waiting. There are three to five BCers a week and there is six-months worth of back order you are talking about a large number of people waiting for surgery who today have gotten yet another example of what looks like hate crimes against trans people.”
Oger says the delays could be more than just a mere frustration to people waiting.
“Already there is a six month waiting list once you are approved for the surgery to even get a slot. They are booked atleast six months ahead. Lots and lots of people have also had to wait two to three years to even get to that place. Losing your spot in the line is really a cause for anxiety.”
Oger says the incident proves the need for greater access to gender reassignment surgical services.
“There’s an effort to bring online a surgical centre in Vancouver, and we actually have skilled transexual surgeons… We have one in vancouver who’s been trying to set up a clinic. This surgeon’s training has already been paid for by the B.C. medical system, I think 10 years ago, and he still doesn’t have a surgical centre to work in.”
Oger says some limited “top” surgery is available in the province for women transitioning to men, but all “bottom” surgeries dealing with genitals are performed at the Montreal facility. She says BC funds the surgery and post-op care, but the initial assessment is funded out of pocket.