Thursday, April 30, 2009

Close the CAMH Gender Identity Clinic

Transsexual Road Map Notes, USA
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Close the CAMH Gender Identity Clinic

As part of the upcoming Trans DSM-V rally/protest in San Francisco May
, we want to make it clear what trans people think about the policies
and procedures at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
Formerly known as the Clarke Institute
and part of the
complex that emerged from the Provincial Lunatic Asylum, CAMH is home
to Kenneth Zucker
, the chief advocate of reparative therapy on gender-variant youth,
and Ray Blanchard, the chief advocate of “autogynephilia”
who claims a trans
woman is merely “a man without a penis.” These two “experts” are
poised to write the diagnoses which will affect all trans people for
the next 15 to 20 years.

Close the CAMH Gender Identity Clinic

We had over 200 people join in the first 24 hours. Let’s keep the
momentum! Invite your friends to join and spread the word to raise

This is talk, not advice. See Terms of Use for details.

Posted by Andrea James on 04/28 at 10:24 AM

©1996-2007 Transsexual Road Map. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Alberta will have trouble with its sex-change policy

From: Stephanie Stevens
Guelph Mercury, Canada
Alberta will have trouble with its sex-change policy
April 28, 2009
Janet Keeping

The government of Alberta recently announced that public funding for
sex reassignment surgery will be eliminated to save about $ 700,000 of
a roughly $13-billion annual health care budget.

Concern about the size of provincial expenditures on health is
legitimate, but removing funding for sex reassignment surgery is not.
Why? Because it is always wrong to single out a much persecuted
minority -- in this case, transsexuals -- for a deprivation unique to

The delisting is almost assuredly contrary to Alberta's human rights
legislation, the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act,
and thus illegal. Trying to justify the delisting, Alberta's Minister
of Health and Wellness Ron Liepert noted that only about 20 people
will be adversely impacted.

This is irrelevant. It is precisely to counter the tendency of
majorities to make decisions that oppress minorities, such as
transsexuals, that we have human rights laws in the first place.

Complaints have already been filed with the Alberta Human Rights
Commission. A similar complaint was filed in Ontario when funding for
sex reassignment surgery was eliminated there. The Ontario government
lost that complaint and had to reinstate funding for the surgery.

Alberta Finance Minister Iris Evans has been quoted as saying "she was
not aware of the Ontario human rights case." Lindsay Blackett,
minister responsible for the Alberta Human Rights Commission, has
admitted that the Ontario experience was not mentioned when the
decision to eliminate sex reassignment surgery funding was taken. It
would seem impossible, but sadly is not: the Alberta government
delisted the surgery without knowing the move is almost assuredly
contrary to its own human rights law.

And does the Alberta government not see the parallels with the Delwyn
Vriend case? Vriend lost his job and filed a complaint with the
Alberta Human Rights Commission alleging he was dismissed because he
is gay. The commission refused the complaint, noting that the wording
of Alberta's human rights law does not include "sexual orientation" as
an illegal ground of discrimination. Alberta courts agreed, but the
Supreme Court of Canada did not. In 1998 it ruled that, given the
constitutional guarantee of equality in the Charter of Rights and
Freedoms, gays could not be excluded from the protections offered to
other groups by anti-discrimination legislation. Even though Alberta
law does not state that "sexual orientation" is an illegal basis of
discrimination, it is.

The same will be true of "gender identity." Even though these words
are not mentioned in Alberta's human rights statute, gender identity
discrimination will be declared illegal by the courts, and the
reasoning will be exactly parallel to that in the Vriend case.

So the delisting of sex reassignment surgery will be reversed. If
sooner, money will be saved. If later, after the courts have forced
reversal, much money will have been wasted -- as was the case when the
Alberta government fought the Vriend case all the way to the Supreme

As other commentators have noted, the sex reassignment surgery funding
case is one "the government cannot possibly win."

In any event, the amount of money saved by delisting the surgery is
trivial given the enormity of the health care budget -- $700,000 of
$13 billion. This works out to 19 cents annually per Albertan.

Some commentators suggest that even the $700,000 saving would never be
realized. Transsexuals denied sex reassignment surgery -- a procedure
deemed necessary by the medical profession -- will almost assuredly
require other medical services, such as additional psychiatric care.

So, this funding cut is not about saving money. If it's really true
that health care expenditures need to be trimmed, ways could be found
to reduce costs equitably, for example, by funding only partially some
services which are now funded fully.

Or contrary to all logic and ethics, the Alberta government could do
as it plans and deprive a small number of Albertans of surgery they
desperately need and, in the result, probably save nothing.

Janet Keeping Is President of the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics
in Leadership. Troy Media Corporation

© Copyright 2008 Metroland Media Group Ltd. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Transgendered represent a cross-section of society

The Edmonton Journal April 16, 2009

I am disappointed by the government's decision to delist sex reassignment surgery (SRS). The delisting was done without any prior discussion with professionals to determine the impact it would have.

I am virtually the only psychiatrist in Alberta who has an interest in this area. A few years ago, there was a gender clinic in Calgary, but it closed.

I have been seeing transgendered individuals since the late 1970s, with the first individual being funded to have SRS in Brussels, Belgium in 1984. I have always felt very good that Alberta provided funding for the surgery, even during the major health-care cuts in the 1990s. I believed that the government actually felt concern and compassion for this marginalized group.

Between 2001 and 2008, I have seen about 250 transgendered individuals at the gender clinic that I run. Not all who are assessed are appropriate for or want SRS. However, about 60 per cent do go through the required process and many wish to have SRS. Others, usually for social reasons, are happy just to be on appropriate hormones.

Of the group who wish to have SRS, about two-thirds are male to female and one-third female to male.

They represent a cross-section of our society. Transgendered individuals come from every socioeconomic class. The majority are employed or going to school; 60 per cent have a college diploma, trade school certificate or a university education. I have seen transgendered individuals who are physicians, teachers, nurses, engineers, lawyers, professors, mechanics, electricians, carpenters and so on.

Many are successful business people, some are retired and an increasing number are still students. I also see, with increasing frequency, children as young as seven, being brought in for assessment by concerned and very supportive parents.

I have conducted a number of satisfaction surveys after SRS on the individuals that I see and all patients are happy with the results of their surgery and have no regrets, which accords with larger international follow-up surveys.

Transgenderism (gender identity disorder) is a condition that is listed in the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and recognized by the Canadian Psychiatric Association.

Transgenderism is a biological state due to hormonal events that occur during intrauterine development. There is scientific agreement on this.

It is not a choice. Gender, including transgenderism, is established at birth although does not express itself until the age of four or five or later.

Awareness of a gender-body incongruency can occur at a very early age and becomes stronger with time. Depending on the family environment, the condition can be expressed or hidden because of parental disapproval. If this occurs, it can lead to considerable angst and even depression in adolescence. A hidden gender identity in an adolescent can lead to dropping out of school, sexual promiscuity, alcohol and drug abuse, depression, and suicide . The cost to the health-care system for such events can be considerable and far more than the $700,000 that was previously allocated for SRS, to say nothing of the ruined lives of young people.

Many provinces deal with SRS on a case-by-case basis. Ontario delisted SRS a few years ago, only to relist it recently after losing a class action discrimination suit. Likewise, British Columbia delisted SRS a few years ago only to relist it after public pressure.

Speaking about seniors, Health Minister Ron Liepert said, "We want to ensure that we look after the most vulnerable in society."

However, transgendered individuals are also a very vulnerable and group in our society. What has happened to our compassion for them? Also, what message is being given to transgendered youth and adolescents? They need support and to be secure in the knowledge that help is available for them when they need it and that they will not be treated as second-class citizens.

Lorne Warneke, clinical professor, psychiatry, University of Alberta, and director, Gender Clinic for Alberta
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

Transsexualism isn't a lifestyle choice

The Edmonton Journal April 16, 2009

No one asks to be born with a heart defect, but the government provides coverage to defray medical costs of repair. No one asks to be disabled with erosive arthritis that requires joint replacement surgery, which is also covered by the government. Why should the government pay for such procedures? Because it makes business sense.

Every working citizen pays taxes, so it makes sense to have a healthy work force. The longer a person lives, the more they work and the more taxes they pay. Keeping people employable is a patriotic investment in the country's future.

I have not met anyone who chose to be born with a heart defect, or chose to have disabling erosive arthritis. I have met such people who have become actively employed taxpayers after appropriate procedures and rehabilitation, which were mostly covered by government health plans.

I have not met anyone who chose to be born with transsexualism, gender identity disorder, gender variant development, Harry Benjamin Syndrome, or other designations all referring to the phenomenon of acute and chronic distress stemming from persistent cognitive dissonance of having to display a gender which is incongruent with a person's self-identity. Such people might become productive taxpayers for a while, but many do not achieve their full potential over their lifetime, which might be brief in comparison to the general population.

Social awkwardness and gender presentation which is judged as inappropriate jeopardizes a person's employability. It may provoke a violent reaction leading to physical injury or death. Withdrawal, alienation and depression result in chronic access of medical resources and increasing drug costs, none of which are likely to succeed in rehabilitating a potential tax payer.

The greatest economic loss comes from violent death or suicide. Dead people do not pay taxes. It is not in the government's interest to lose the talent, gifts, skill sets, and abilities of a citizen who can potentially become a productive worker who pays taxes over a long lifetime.

It makes business sense for the government to pay for GRS, just as there is justification for paying for correction of cardiac defects, or joint replacement surgeries.

In summary, here are the following reasons:

- There is a return on the investment over a long time through income taxes paid by the fully employed individual;

- There is a benefit to the government in reducing expenditures in chronic care, AISH, drug plans, psychiatric services, emergency room costs, ambulance costs, police services, and alcohol and drug rehabilitation services. Costs related to investigations of murder or suicide can be avoided;

- There is a benefit to the government, the community and the country through the services provided by the taxpayer who makes full use of their individual talents, gifts, and skill sets as they pursue a career with long employment;

- The government only meets the minimal moral requirement by providing care limited to endless chronic support, which is not only a Band-Aid solution to a life threatening phenomenon, but also increases costs as it achieves little in worthwhile outcome. The moral requirement of the government is to see to the welfare of its citizens and to the welfare of the state.

Dr. Karen Hofmann, Edmonton
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Latest update Wednesday April 15th

Latest update Wednesday April 15th

1. There will be a rally at the Health Minister's office on Friday April 17th at 1:30 p.m. (5555 Strathcona Hill SW Calgary). This is being put on by Friends of Medicare, and in support of a number of health issues.

We need to stand in solidarity with them if possible, as we all have mutual concerns. For example, one of the discussed cuts centers around suicide prevention programs for youth, which affects that part of our population as well.

This is important. If we wish people to support our health issues, we should also be willing to care about theirs and stand in solidarity. For any who can attend, please do.



2. Because of the low and inaccurate number of GRS patients listed in question period on April 14, 2009, we need to perform a census to clear up the confusion about Alberta's TS population. This is all you have to do.

Contact Jamie Beach at with the following information.
1) Full name
2) Email Address
3) Status in GRS stage. (Considering transition, on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or awaiting surgery (you should already be well into HRT by this point))

You must be a resident of Alberta. Please pass this request to anyone you know that may be in or considering the GRS program through emails. All information must be collected by April 18, 2009. Please note, we do not need information from you if you have completed your transition (post op). Thank you for helping.


3. Alberta Health and Wellness has a hotline concerned citizens can call to get more information, give comments, concerns, etc about the new budget.

The operators are there to hear your views and relay your comments to the Minister.

I encourage you to call, be respectful, and to register your complaint to GRS funding cuts, and the reasons why you are concerned.

Call toll-free in Alberta, dial 310-0000 followed by the 10-digit phone number 780-638-2844.

This is another powerful way for this amazing network to become involved and ensure the voices from the trans communities and their allies are heard!


4. Ongoing

Sarah has an online petition started at

Be sure to stop by and add your name.

5. We have a letter appeal out to all Albertans. Please visit and copy the "19 Cents" article following the intro and forward it to anyone in the Province that you think might listen.

6. Tell Me A Story

This will be a longer-term project, originating in Alberta. It will also be something that can perhaps translate on a national or international scale. Trans folk from around the world can participate if they like, and we will also be able to share the file with other communities if they want to raise funding to print and distribute it elsewhere.

I'm hoping to compile a hand-out booklet, professionally-printed, colour cover and B/W interior, telling our stories in individual testimonials. I'll be funding it by donations, which will determine how many pages and how many copies can be produced. I can do the layout and design and nuts and bolts of it at no cost -- that's what I do in my day job, after all.

The purpose is to tell our stories to the general public, how transition and GRS have transformed our lives for the better, how the pre-transition grief and anxiety hampered our lives and why we've had to make our choices. I find that giving a realistic face to who we are helps us tremendously. I believe in full inclusion in the trans community, but because of the current need to focus on GRS and full transition, the focus will be on the issue of gender identity solely -- on people who need transition, people in transition, and people who have completed their transition and moved on (and will be sectioned in that way, so that readers can see the progression).

Spouses and / or parents who have seen a partner / child through transition or part of transition and would like to talk about the change they've seen, how it's affected family, etc. are also welcome to contribute, because I believe these stories are also an important part of providing a rounded picture.

Participation is voluntary, I can't pay for the content. I also can't promise to use everything sent in, I will have to make editorial decisions based on length, number of pages I can raise funds for, relevance, and more. I may need to edit what is sent in for length, spelling / grammar, appropriateness of language for the audience, and such. As a writer myself, it's my intent to make as few edits as possible, because I understand the importance of keeping the spirit of what is written, so I will make every effort to make these edits with caution and careful consideration.

Contributors can use a pseudonym: keep in mind that using a real name will give the project more veracity and impact, but using a real name can also mean that what you write can come back to you in the future. I respect that, so you have the choice. Photos are also welcome (and great!) but the same caution applies.

For information or to submit a story, contact Mercedes Allen at

Take care,
Alberta Transgender Resources:

To Whom It May Concern:

> To Whom It May Concern:
> Article 3 of the Canada Health Act states:
> "It is hereby declared that the primary objective of Canadian health care policy is to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers."
> By removing Sex Reassignment Surgery from the list of medical services covered under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, it sends a message that "other barriers" may not include that of sexual discrimination.
> The recent announcement that Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) will be "delisted" under the provincial health care insurance plan brings questions of equity and basic human rights to the minds of many. As much of the world, and certainly Canada as a nation moves closer to understanding the need for equality - Alberta continues to regard sexual minorities as marginal, or even "unworthy" of consideration as equals.
> The facts are simple; According to the Canadian Psychiatric Association, in agreement with their American counterparts - Gender Identity Disorder is a recognized biological disorder. Much like someone born with Cerebral Palsy or Down Syndrome.
> This disorder profoundly effects the lives of thousands of Albertans. Some studies suggest that as many as one out of every five hundred individuals could be afflicted to some degree. Along with the obvious impact this may have on friends and family, there are other implications that (too often) go un-mentioned. 51% of transgendered persons attempt suicide. That fact alone should be reason for the concern of our elected officials. With recent media attention to same sex marriage both in Canada and other countries, the stage has been set for increased understanding of sexual minorities. This (in turn) provides a greater understanding of those who would otherwise remain silent as they suffer the ignorance of those who continue to view gender incongruence as a simple "cosmetic fix" in response to a chosen lifestyle. Transgenderism (Gender Identity Disorder) is NOT a choice. Yet here in Alberta, again we hear of the inequity and obvious lack of education that inevitably may lead to yet another senseless act of discrimination against an entire group of people. A group of people; which already faces the daily humiliation of knowing that they do not fall within the protection of sexual discrimination laws. Yet another way our law and policy makers tend to marginalize those who need our compassion and understanding.
> When someone in our province becomes injured or ill, a doctor evaluates the severity and immediacy of the condition. Likely this can mean a 10 minute examination which ends in treatment and/or prescribed medication to accommodate recovery. Regardless of the nature of the illness, once the medical profession deems the treatment "necessary" for the health and well-being of the patient, he/she receives that treatment at little or no cost under the terms of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan.
> People born with Gender Identity Disorder must undergo an extensive regime of mental and physical evaluations and scrutiny to determine their condition. They must be willing to demonstrate the NEED for gender reassignment. Once they demonstrate that need, they must further demonstrate that they are mentally fit, and able to deal with everything that is to come. A process which many do NOT complete successfully. The point here, is that while some procedures which 'Alberta Health" funds willingly require little more than a 10 minute meeting with a Doctor they may never have met before, others spend months and years qualifying for and preparing themselves for. To suggest that such a profound change in someone's well being is as trivial as a "cosmetic procedure" is truly without merit.
> SRS has been delisted in Alberta, in the shadow of a steep (and necessary) increase in funding for the elderly. This suggests an agenda for setting priorities based on the needs of an aging population, and understandably so. However, while the number of protections increase for those who aren't defined as "different", the understanding and protection provided for others, is taken away. Ironically, even the elderly can suffer Gender Identity Disorder. We, as a society - MUST be prepared to foster equity in our entire population. To single out, and discriminate against any one debilitating birth defect means that we eventually have the capacity to single out, and discriminate against others. To think that one day children born with Down Syndrome might be disenfranchised by those whom they might have actually voted for, is truly disheartening. Like any birth defect - should a cure exist, and the need for that cure be evident - it should be included in our basic rights to health care. If a child born with Cerebral Palsy could be cured we would NOT hesitate to invest in that person's future. So why then would a person born with Gender Identity Disorder be treated any differently? Has any consideration been made for the costs to support someone who cannot afford a readily available cure?
> Sex Reassignment Surgery can, and does drastically increase the ongoing health, and well being of many who, one day - will be happy, healthy seniors. It would seem, that the "... financial and other barriers" mentioned in the Canada Health Act could better be served by perhaps recalling why it was written in the first place.
> (Mr) Stacy D. Green
> Alberta Resident & President of PFLAG Canada
> (Mrs) Lynne Delorme
> Regional Director (Prairie Region): PFLAG Canada

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Legislature Report

618 Alberta Hansard April 14, 2009
Delisting of Medical Services

Ms Notley: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The health minister wants to cut gender reassignment surgery and chiropractic care from public health care. He seems to think that he can create a political precedent for delisting by going after people and services that are most vulnerable; for instance, where there is a high level of public misunderstanding, as with gender reassignment surgery. To the minister of health. You’ve already admitted it in the media. Why won’t you admit here today that these cuts are just one more step towards dismantling the public health system and bringing more U.S. private health care to Alberta?

Mr. Liepert: Well, Mr. Speaker, I remember that before the Easter break the leader of the third party talked about – I believe his quote was “a dishonest budget.” We’ve heard two questions today from these two sitting in the corner, and both of them have been dishonest questions.

Ms Notley: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know what he’s talking about, but
maybe he could raise it sometime. A 2004 government study concluded that doctors should recommend spinal manipulation to their low-back patients as part of their medical care; in short, a medically necessary treatment. The AMA says that gender reassignment surgery is an effective treatment for people who suffer from gender identity disorder; in short, a medically necessary treatment. To the minister: why won’t you protect our public health system instead of coming up with more and more ways to sell it off to your friends in the insurance industry?

Mr. Liepert: Mr. Speaker, if our publicly funded health care system isn’t sustainable in the future, we won’t have one. We’ll have exactly what these two keep talking about, and that is private-sector health care. This government is the one that is preserving our publicly funded health care system, not the status quo.

Ms Notley: Mr. Speaker, this government gives more than $700,000 to their high-paid staff in one year than they give to these people that need this treatment. The fundamental health of many transgendered Albertans hinges on gender reassignment surgery, and by denying that, this government could be complicit in raising their risk of depression and suicide. Delisting the surgery trims a tiny fraction from the health budget but slashes at the very foundation of human rights. To the minister: isn’t it enough that you’re already ripping apart our public health system? Why are you trampling on people’s human rights while you’re at it?

View the question period and the full transcript at the following link at 51 minutes – 16 seconds (51:16)