Alex Blaze

A somewhat victory in Ontario

Filed By Alex Blaze | May 16, 2008 12:05 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Canada, Kenneth Zucker, Ontario, single-payer, SRS

Ontario health minister George Smitherman said yesterday that the province's government would soon start covering SRS. So, first, hurray!

While we don't even have a single-payer system in the US, if we did, I'm pretty sure that the procedures involved in SRS wouldn't be covered. So the fact that this is the debate in Canada shows that we here in the US still have a long ways to go to catch up with our northern neighbors.

Also, it's great for the trans people who can't afford it to be able to have access to this kind of surgery. It's medically necessary for a small but significant group of people and there's no reason for it not to be covered. Especially since the people who need it are already paying into the Canada's health care system.

But, second, there are a few reasons this is just a first step:

  • The health minister is just talking to the media. He seems pretty sure and all, but still, there isn't anything in writing yet.
  • What exactly gets covered under this plan hasn't been discussed. Sex reassignment surgery is a series of procedures and counseling and hormones and other medical expenses, and covering only part of the procedure still limits access.
  • The gatekeeper for this procedure is the CAMH, formerly the Clarke Institute. The TS Road Map describes the CAMH as:

    The Clarke Institute is a Toronto mental institution charged with serving gender-variant clients in the area. Under the direction of Ray Blanchard, it has become widely known as one of the most notorious facilities in the world in terms of controlling access to medical services.

    According to their website they offer services, including for "those who wish to manage their cross-gender feelings and the expression of those feelings while remaining in their original gender role." This is another way to describe reparative therapy similar to groups who claim to "cure" gays and lesbians.

    Much of the anti-trans thinking in the world today emanates from The Clarke, long nicknamed "Jurassic Clarke" in the trans community for its regressive policies.

    xtra Canada says of previous SRS coverage in Ontario:

    Trans surgery was covered under OHIP (the Ontario Health Insurance Plan) until Oct 1, 1998. But tight controls meant only eight to 12 surgeries were performed a year -- and only trans women had access to it. Stringent rules meant that many who wanted the surgery were barred from access through OHIP.

    So many people who don't jump through all the hoops aren't going to get this surgery, whether they need it or not.

  • Another point about the CAMH, that's where Kenneth Zucker works. He believes in the ex-trans therapy, which includes things like not looking at the color pink. His goal is to reduce the number of trans-identified people and supports those whose goal it is to reduce the number of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. And he'll have power under this plan.
  • One of those hoops that the CAMH was known for was that SRS was only for transwomen, not transmen.
Details, details.

Hopefully, when something actually gets worked out here, leaders from the trans community will be invited to participate in the implementation of this program. Since I've started learning more about the medicalization of transgenderism this past year, this seems to be the most obvious, egregious, and common oversight when it comes to anyone who wants to help trans people, whether they're in the "Free SRS for everybody!" or the "Just stop looking at pink, goddammit!" camps.

(Hat tip to reader Tobi for sending in all the links. Thanks!)


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Hopefully, when something actually gets worked out here, leaders from the trans community will be invited to participate in the implementation of this program

Ha Ha Ha Ha ha ha ha ha!

Nice one Alex, that had me rolling in the aisles.

We're working in other Canadian provinces, together with people who have been tasked with formulating policy in this area. So the idea is not laughable there, and it may happen.

Yes, even an Australian TS/IS Rocket Scientist got to "do lunch" with a senior provincial bureaucrat when I was in Canada recently. Things are happening behind the scenes.

Mostly, it's individuals, people who know people who know people tasked with formulating policy. You get a few TS people together, make it clear you only speak for yourselves, and tell the Head Honchos your life stories. You give them URLs, go through the cost of providing treatment (2c a month), vs the costs of not providing treatment in terms of psych care needed and lost taxes (rather more). Tell them that migrants and aboriginals have their own problems, that we're like any other group, quite heterogenous. This works well for those semi-stealth, boringly normal looking rather than radical activists. Get a few internationals to highlight the universals, and give lessons learnt overseas.

The stuff that HRC should have been doing, but has been actively working to prevent.

But if we had any input at all in Ontario, do you think Jurassic Clarke would have been appointed gatekeepers? No, this was decided at a rather high level, and for political reasons. Hopefully this will change eventually, but really, "breath-holding is contra-indicated".

So why don't Canadian trans folks simply make a big stink about "Jurassic Clarke" being chosen and demand a facility with real science involved? Why not keep pushing the meme "Ontario wants to send trans people to a witch doctor instead of a medical doctor?"

Caillean McMahon | May 17, 2008 12:44 PM

Over on Mercedes Allen's 3 Model's tread, I posted a sketchy outline of a paper that I am preparing to submit to the APA workgroup pointing out the weaknesses and problems in the Clarke/Blanchard/Zuker diagnostic models and proposing changes for DSM-V that would address this rather than axcepting "Clarke criteria" as the DSM's new diagnostic formula.

A few comments.
This is about playing games. Notice in many articles the mention of it being delisted in 1998 by the Conservative government. Ok but the Liberal government took power in 2003. So half the 10 years is due to the Libs not changing, as they [promised before being elected the first time around even to the point of continuing the Human Rights Challenge.

As to the men not getting funding, that is half correct. None of the provinces in Canada that fund corrective surgery, B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, Manitoba, fund bottom surgery for the men. This is all based on the idea from the Clarke that it is experimental. This of course is wrong and discriminatory but no one is asking why it is the women in the other provinces are not standing by the men to support them in this fight.

Though not all Provinces in Canada Fund, the Federal government does fund for all those who are under their direct care and control.

This is a game to the Ontario government. They knew that the transexual communty in general hated the Clarke, but when the HR case was heard no one mentioned that part. Instead they asked for things to be as they were.

So what better way for this government to shut up a community and make them look greedy? Easy go back to the future. Make things as they were when it was disgustingly discriminatory for the community, at a time when only a few were permitted to "pass" and be allowed funding.
Making people live that full year in the correct gender role, without the support of hormone therapy. Make it that much more difficult for those who can't work, or who work for themselves to "pass"
See now the government can say out loud, see we gave you what you asked for, and now you want more? Yep that will go over well with the already negative people out there that look at this as some sort of choice.

As Zucker works with children and youth that they fund or not has no barring on him and his job. Youth are not permitted into the program run by Blanchard.

No we Ontarians will have no say in how this process happens, and it will happen.

We will continue to be pathologised and run by those gate keepers allowing maybe 10 people per year to pay their own way to where ever a deal has been made for surgery to take place. It was the U.K. up until 1998. The government only paid for the procedure itself nothing more.

This means if you don't agree with using that surgeon you have to find that money to pay for the one you actually would rather use and wait for the government to pay you back later. Considering the reason people need funding is because they don't have the money to pay for it as it is.

And goddess help those who have been out there fighting in public against the government and the Clarke. If you think that those of us would stand a chance now gaining funding you really are dreaming.

Yep good news is there, but so is the bad news.