Re-assignment surgery a priority

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The recent announcement by the Department of Health that funding is now in place for re-assignment surgery for transgender people who wish to complete their gender identity is a huge step in the right direction.

Last year, the NDP government along with other parties in the Nova Scotia Legislature voted to give equal rights to members of the transgender community. The struggle has been long and arduous.

As a society, it is imperative that we live in a state of well-being, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The methods required come in many forms, among which is positive education so that members of our society learn about the various aspects of life.

In order to move on with transgender understanding we must take advantage of today’s multi-media where ideas are shared daily and immediately. Government education departments across Canada must deal with this in all school settings, from elementary to post secondary levels. I have emphasized on numerous occasions that education at an early age will encourage understanding that carries into adulthood and so diversity will be understood and acceptance will evolve.

We cannot afford to waste precious time to bring this about, lest we experience more suicides, mental anguish, bullying and attacks. So far, attempts have been made by various LGBT groups and activists to expedite action. Studies are no longer an issue, but positive action is paramount at this time and the sooner this happens the further we will experience the results required to eliminate intolerance and ignorance of facts.

A few days ago we heard from the Province of Nova Scotia that funding is now available. The next step is to educate family physicians, mental health professionals and, yes, family members and friends so that more time is not wasted. Surgeons must be trained to adequately perform the necessary procedures with skill and be fully aware that the surgeries need to be fully successful.

Government must insist on educating and training these professionals without delay. There are many different surgeries to consider in order to make a person feel whole and content as a female, or male. Presently, only one surgeon in Nova Scotia is trained in Nova Scotia to provide any procedure at all, so I would suggest the government make haste and make re-assignment surgeries a priority in all its aspects. Kudos to the government for taking this first huge step!


Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.

Organizations: Department of Health

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Canada

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