In 2009, with 600 people on the waiting list, the Alberta government cut funding for gender reassignment surgeries as a cost-saving measure. The years since have been devastating for many who had depended on their government’s support.
As I often write when discussing gay teen suicides — all things in life (the good, bad and ugly) have a beginning and an end. Thankfully, that holds true for the difficulties the trans community has been facing in Alberta since the funding was cut.
Health Minister Fred Horne has announced that the funding will be reinstated on June 15, simply because it is “the right thing to do.” Up to 25 people will be eligible for government aid each year, for a total cost of about $1 million.
"This is about the government doing something because they know it’s the right thing to do, and that is a huge step forward,” says Kristopher Wells, a researcher at the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services at the University of Alberta. “This isn’t about being forced to do something but the Alberta government doing something because they know it’s the right thing to do. And that is a huge step forward, not only building a relationship with the LGBT community, but showing to the rest of the world that Alberta values human rights and will do everything in its power to protect and defend them.” Wells called the decision to reinstate funding “historic” and necessary, especially because, after the funding was cut two years ago, many left the province in despair. “For many, this is their only hope forward in their lives,” he adds. “So this will be a hugely important announcement. It’s going to give these people hope."
"Emotionally, it’s been a roller coaster, for sure,” trans activist Angela Reid told Global News. “I had just been in Alberta when it was delisted, and many of my trans friends were very depressed.” She said that the news of the reinstatement is “unexpected” and that those contacting her through Facebook and text messages are “lit up with joy.”