Usually my mail consists mostly of flyers and junk addressed to “dear occupant”. Which, in and of itself, is not bad, at least they are not bills!! Yesterday, however, was different. There was a letter from our Ministry of Health. In it, was a notice that I have been approved for funding by the Province for Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS). Fully paid for. Done. That means that I can now move forward, and work with the surgeon to get a date !
While I have several thoughts regarding the actual surgery, that will be for another time. What I am really thinking about is how much the process for approval has changed in the last 18 months. When I started the transition process, I of course, started to investigate how one gets approval for funding. It was a taunting process at best. There was only one approved assessment clinic for all of the Province of Ontario. One. That was it. And, on top of that, it was also the assessment clinic for applicants from two other provinces.
What that meant was that you had to apply to that clinic to be assessed for Gender Dysphoria and if you were a suitable candidate for the surgery. After that six month assessment process, they would then send your application, (if deemed suitable) to the Health Ministry for consideration. Often times, this would take another four months. Then, if you made it through all that, it was a 12 – 18 month wait for a date.
But wait, it gets better. Once you contacted the assessment clinic to register to begin the process, the wait time to get into the clinic just to start the whole show was at least two years. Yup, two. T.W.O…2….and I’ve got the letter to prove it. And, and, it didn’t matter if you were already working with a psychologist and being assessed. You would have to start the entire process over again. Now, just to keep my own sanity, I was (and still am) under the care of a psychologist that specializes in gender dysphoria. That is all she does. But under this system, it didn’t matter…I would have had to start all over again. As the system had not yet officially been overhauled, it was recommended that I begin the process as it was, just in case the review of the system and proposed changes were not adopted. I was fit to be tied.
So, do the math. That is at a minimum, 3.5 years from the time you started the process to your surgery. MINIMUM ! How ridiculous! And that was the way it was for years. In what universe is it humane to prolong the suffering of people by that long simply because of stupid bureaucracy!! That, to me, was criminal.
Now, and I don’t know how it all happened, but the voices of displeasure (to say the least) were finally heard and they did overhaul the system. So waiting times are drastically reduced. They have now approved about 60 specialists and clinicians to do the assessment at locations all over the province. Fortunately, my therapist is one of them, and in fact was one of the people that did the training for others. So, I didn’t have to start all over again. So off went the paper work. Three weeks later, I get a notification in the mail that I am approved, and a copy was sent to my surgeon of choice, so they are in the loop.
The gender clinic where my surgeon works has also added at least one, if not two more surgeons, so wait times on their end are dramatically reduced. I should have a date sometime in the next six months.
So there have been improvements. Thank you to all of those who went before me that paved the way for my transition. What you had to endure should have never happened. But things are better because of you, your voices were finally heard. I am now one step closer to being truly congruent for the very first time in my life and in a much shorter period of time.