Friday, January 30, 2009

one more case of poor funding decisions

I got a call from a friend today. He had his appointment to receive his assessment, the truth of whether or not the BC Medical Services Plan would pay for his medically necessary surgery.

There is a local doctor, trained in Belgium under special contract from BC MSP to learn and practise various types of Sexual Re-assignment Surgeries. Unfortunately the public funding authority BC MSP won't let this talented and specialized doctor preform surgery in a public hospital, the procedures must be performed privately. This subsequently raises the cost very significantly.
The amount that BC MSP will pay for this friend's surgery is 1500.
Now I may add that this gentleman is a fine example of what the doctors officially are looking to support. He's hardworking, well educated, straight appearing, weaned off of anti-depressants and working off thousands of dollars of student debt (now that is a whole other story for a whole other day.). He has the kind of chest that requires a very heavy bind for him to feel safe working in his industrial job and comfortable out in public. Usually 3 high tension bands surround his chest, causing back pain and restricting breathing and movement.
The total cost of the surgery will be more like $6000, plus time taken off of work for recovery, prescriptions and related expenses. That means that less than 25 % of the cost of his surgery will be paid for. Unfortunately this makes this medically necessary procedure prohibitive due to cost.
The Hippocratic Oath, upon which modern medicine was structured and developed, states as its final and closing remark,
"To keep the good of the patient as the highest priority."
The current funding decisions at the hands of BC MSP funding authority is blatantly going against this ideal, when considering that for many trans patients the chronic back pains, respiratory issues, skin conditions, as well as depression,risk of physical harm due to transphobic violence and the physical dysphoria experienced by trans patients continues while surgery is unattainable.
A hark working modest individual who doesn't want to put on a show to survive and doesn't want to ask his other broke friends living in the same or similar conditions to help him through this is stuck.
Please Minister George Abbott, allow Dr. Cameron Bowman to perform SR surgery at public hospitals in BC, and ensure that the cost is never a prohibitive matter to patients. This is a system built to take care of the citizens of BC. That includes transpeople.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Media Watch on Gender

This week I have noticed the ongoing gap in general understanding of trans identities and politics starting to close in some ways, and perpetually continuing in others.
The first article was in Victoria's Times Colonist.
Growing up Different in BC
Including interviews with transfolks (who's pronouns they get right part of the time), doctors, some of whom actually advocate for local surgeries, and the health minister who seems to continue to believe that until trans patients waiting for surgery in BC make up a majority of his workload, they don't deserve to have the care and safety of having surgery close to home. I have written about this before and will do it again, the trauma caused by post-surgical travel is unnecessary and detrimental to patients in a very fragile physical and emotional state. Airplanes are not a healthful healing environment, and airports are not a safe space from discrimination and harassment. I am happy to see the paper in our province's capital covering this topic, but I would like to see province wide publication of this as news, and province wide response to Health Minister George Abbott. We are here, we want surgery and we want it close to home, in top notch facilities, with well trained doctors like Dr. Bowman, and we want it covered by provincial medical coverage.
Is that really too much to ask? It would be a financial savings to the province in a very short time if they quit exporting patients. It would keep the economy of SRS locally based and not dependant on inter-provincial travel which can be undue harm to patients post surgery.

And in completely other news, the mainstream public (in this case the riders of Translink in Vancouver) continue to be bombarded with transphobic media like this:
The "joke" that is transwomen working in the sex trade is an ongoing target of physical abuse and emotional harassment. This little entertainment piece, published in Vancouver's 24 hrs News Paper which is given out free on public transit continues to perpetuate this with lines including,
"the actor... failed to realize that the scantily clad sexy blonde giving him a lap dance wasn't a woman, until the stripper removed his wig"
"Kiefer was lost for words and hastily pushed the stripper off his lap..."
"Kiefer's jaw dropped and he shoved the she-male away as pals collapsed screaming. He looked angry...."
It seems that for straight men to feel "deceived" by the gender of someone that turns them on is still a rational excuse to lash out in physical and emotional abuse. I don't think so 24hrs!

Friday, January 2, 2009

I imagine a number of blog writers may have returned to stale pages this week as a new year causes some of us to check in and resolve to absolve, re-start creating, re-new exploration and generally do something with the time spent inside, hiding from winter, almost ready to get back into the full swing of whatever our normal lives are, but are riding out the last weekend of this string of winter holidays resolved to make positive changes in our lives, or at least not get bored. I have a little bit of both, I will admit. I have been flooded with time without homework, no readings, no projects. So much down time to watch videos, smoke week, lay about, cuddle, sleep, drink hot chocolate and eat so much. It's reminded me that I have stories and visions, dreams and ideas. The time I have spent socializing this season has reminded me of those stories waiting to be recorded, drawn out, written out, layed in concrete allowing me to reflect on them and perhaps lay them to rest, or at least to a deeper understanding. I have decided to record at least one of those stories everyday, in the medium most appropriate. So far crayon illustrated narratives and pencil crayon life time lines have started to make their way on to paper. With any will and the dream of finding spare time to work on this after next week I will have a virant collection of my stories, presented in all of their unique ways.