When British Columbia's Ministry of Health, much like the American Medical Association, recognized gender-confirming surgery as medically necessary, the province's government took measures far beyond what any U.S. state has: It began covering surgeries, including genital reconstructions, under British Colbumbia's Medical Service Plan.
But is the Canadian province really the safe haven for trans citizens that these actions suggest? This week a diverse group of British Columbian trans advocates are answering that question with a loud and clear no.
Many, including members of the local Trans Alliance Society, are now calling out the B.C. Ministry of Health for delaying trans patients' access to gender-affirming surgeries. Society chair Morgane Oger told Vancouver's Georgia Straight that trans women who have been approved for surgery have been waiting up to two years to receive their procedures.
Trans men who have been approved are currently facing a wait as long as 10 years before receiving gender-affirming surgeries under the state-covered medical plan. Out of the 95 men who joined the waiting list when it opened three years ago, not one has been sent for the procedures, according to the video below from Oger's group.
"Having to wait 10 years for your first surgery, it feels like a long time when you're an early adult," Oger told the Straight. Further, she notes, all surgeries are done in Montreal, making travel costs and lack of local options for post-surgical follow-up a real barrier to access.
"You have to take a picture of your privates and email it to Montreal, and then they'll tell you what to do [if you have a post-surgical complication]," Oger explains. "That might include, 'Oh, fly back. There's something wrong.' It's pretty dire."
This Sunday, Oger and many others will be calling on the B.C. Ministry to Health to provide "safe, accessible, timely" surgeries for trans people in their province during the first B.C. Trans Advocacy Day at Vancouver's Creekside Community Recreation Center.
"We believe it's not a good idea to make people wait a very long time, to go very far away to do a surgery, and then make them come back here in isolation with limited or no postoperative support," Oger explained of the advocacy day's motivations.
Watch the Trans Alliance Society's video below for more striking stats on the situation.