Sadly, no. Despite the impression given on the final Global news item in their Transformation series, MSP has not changed their policy for MTF patients seeking breast augmentation.
If you’ve been following the Global news series, “Transformation,” likely you, like I, have been impressed with the thoughtful and sensitive treatment the subject of being transgender has been given. At times, I have been deeply moved.
I was interested in the assertion made in the final segment, that MSP was now paying for top surgery for MTF patients. This was apparently change in policy. It turns out there has been no change in policy at all, despite what the reporter tells us. If you’re MTF, MSP will pay for top surgery only if, after a minimum of 18 months on hormones, there is either no breast development or there is significant asymmetry. This policy has been in place for years. If you’re blessed only with minimal development, as I have, we will have to pay for top surgery ourselves. The good news is, at least we can have it done here in BC, provided we can afford it.
Yes, we do have a qualified surgeon here in BC who could also do bottom surgery, but here MSP has changed its policy. It sent Dr. Bowman to Belgium for training. He is qualified and capable, but no, he won’t be granted hospital privileges for bottom surgery anytime soon. This is the second time BC has paid to have a surgeon trained to perform SRS, but subsequently refused him the right to practice. Instead, we will continue to send our patients to Montreal: 44 last year, over 70, this year.
The really bad news? When you go to Montreal for your SRS, you get only 10 days aftercare, then they send you home. You will be in significant pain and discomfort, and there is a very good chance that you may still be bleeding, especially if you’re not yet adept at inserting the stent at just the right angle. The stent has to be inserted for half an hour at a time, every four hours, to prevent the new vagina from healing itself closed, with possible life threatening results.
Imagine finding yourself waiting in the Montreal airport for (how many hours?) and then trying to find a private spot where you can do what must be done, then flying home on the plane…for (how many hours?) When was the last time you flew to Montreal? Did you enjoy your flight? Now imagine doing it when you are already in pain. And how long was that flight again? Here you are in mid-air and it’s time to repeat the procedure again. Where? How? In the airplane’s washroom? Good luck with that. Then home at last.
Well, not quite. You live on the Island. Make your way to the ferry. Wait in line. Wait for the ferry. How many hours has it been? Oops, time to look for a little privacy once again.
Oh, and just to add insult to injury, you will probably be carrying one of those inflatable cushions they use for hemhorroid patients. (Now that’s not embarrassing on the airplane or the ferry, is it? Probably not. You’ll be in so much pain you won’t notice much of anything going on around you.) Suck it up, babe. You’re a woman now. Get used to it.
But Minister of Health Mike De Jong believes SRS patients are better served when we are sent to Montreal. And so we are.
Did I tell you I was looking forward to it?