In the past few weeks, two Canadian provinces have denied transgender people funding for their basic health care needs in a country which touts a universal and public health care system.
First came Alberta, which previously covered sex reassignment surgery (SRS) (also known as GRS — gender reassignment surgery or gender reaffirmation surgery). The province decided to delist (stop funding) SRS procedures, ostensibly as a part of their bid to address the current budget deficit.
Only problem is that cutting coverage for such surgeries amounts to only $700,000 in savings. The overall heath care budget for Alberta is almost $13 billion; the deficit is approximately $4.7 billion.
Now comes Manitoba. The province currently only funds a couple of SRS-related surgeries and doesn’t even cover hormone treatments for trans people. They have now just rejected a proposal (ads on site may be NSFW) to fully cover hormone therapies and SRS, citing “the economic downturn.” This is despite the fact that the province has increased spending overall this year by 4.4% and still expects to have a $48 million surplus.
Both Alberta and Manitoba have claimed SRS and other specifically trans-related health services do not deserve coverage in this economic downturn while others still do based on the notion that such services are “cosmetic” and/or “unnecessary.” Which means that they’ve clearly misunderstood the idea that just because not all trans people want or seek out the same medical procedures/care as a part of transition, or any procedures/care at all, it doesn’t mean that it’s not a necessity for a good bulk of those who do. Either that, or they just don’t care — and don’t expect a vast majority of taxpayers to care, either.
What this is seemingly about in Alberta is pretending that they’re doing something about the damn budget by disparaging and harming an already oppressed and marginalized group. They’re using that age old tactic of pretending that a certain group that society holds bigotry against is a drain on taxpayer money, while erasing the fact that trans people are taxpayers too, and that even if they weren’t, the point of the system is to guarantee health care for all. And in Manitoba just doesn’t want to be bothered with extending full rights to all of its residents in the first place.
Of course, we have the same problem down here in the U.S., too. First of all, we don’t have a public health care system to begin with, and so many trans people lack insurance, and those who do have it are often denied coverage for the care they need — again, because it’s seen as “a drain” and “unnecessary” and “too expensive.” It’s seen as a “lifestyle choice” rather than a part of health care, and a very important part, and a necessary part, for many people.
In other words, it’s really just another way that cis-controlled society and power structures can illegitimize trans identities as less real. It’s a means of valuing cis health and lives way high above trans health and lives, not to mention placing physical health above mental health. It’s saying that those “15-20” people in each province who would seek out SRS each year just don’t fucking matter. And on top of all that, it’s also scapegoating.
It’s the height of transphobia, and it’s going to have a very real, extremely harmful impact on the lives of those affected. And thanks to the fact that transphobia is inherently dehumanizing, the powers that be just don’t give a shit.