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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Canadian Province Ordered To Pay For Sex-Change Surgeries
by Fidel Ortega, Miami Bureau

(Toronto, Ontario) The Ontario government has been ordered to cover the costs of sexual reassignment surgery for three transsexuals left stranded when the previous Tory government delisted the service from the government paid health care system in 1998.

In an interim ruling, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found the province discriminated against them based on a disability when it cut funding for the surgery on Oct. 1, 1998.

Ontario had paid for the procedure since 1969. It's now the only province that doesn't.

Diagnosed with "gender identity disorder," an internationally recognized medical condition, Martine Stonehouse, Michelle Hogan and a third complainant known only as A.B. were patients at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health's Gender Identity Clinic in Toronto on the day the funding ended.

They were part of its transition program so they could receive the clinic's recommendation for sex-change surgery. It was the only clinic in Ontario that had an arrangement with the Ontario Health Insurance Plan for sex-reassignment surgery and the supporting services.

The tribunal found that delisting the surgery had a disproportionate adverse impact on the complainants, as they had already spent years in the transition process.

There was a "grandfathering" clause, but it covered only those individuals who'd already been recommended for surgery. Given how far along each of the complainants were, the tribunal said they should have been grandfathered as well.

Hogan is encouraged by the ruling, but has no idea what the final decision will contain.

It's also unclear when it will come, which is why this was released in the interim.

Hogan was already taking hormone replacement therapy when the government cut its funding, and like A.B. has already had the surgery.

The tribunal said that given the nature of the complaints, it would be unfair, especially to those waiting for funding to complete the surgery, to continue their treatment only after the full decision and reasons were released.

A health ministry spokesman said the government plans to comply with the interim order while awaiting the final decision.


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