Toronto
2 min

Getting carded

Egale turns up SRS heat

REASSIGNMENT. Rosalyn Forrester surprises Minister Of Health And Long-term Care George Smitherman with trans talk during a youth forum at the 519 Community Centre on Oct 2. Credit: Joshua Meles

Egale Canada has launched a postcard campaign calling on the province to restore funding for sex reassignment surgery (SRS), and they’re targetting Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.



Last spring the premier’s office said they would not reinstate funding for SRS, despite having given hints that it would. SRS – a procedure many argue is essential for the well-being of transsexuals – was delisted from OHIP coverage by the Mike Harris government in 1998.



“We were hoping that the Conservative government would get thrown out of office and there would be a shift in attitude,” says Susan Gapka, an Egale board member and cochair of its trans issues committe. “We’re still waiting for that to occur.”



Since the McGuinty Liberals came into power a year ago, they have failed to live up to the hopes of many activists who argue that the government’s refusal to fund SRS is purely based on politics and not economics. Currently the province’s health budget sits at around $33-billion; covering SRS in the past has only cost a relatively meagre $120,000 per year, according to Egale.



“People in the premier’s office need to read the background, need to meet some trans people and find out we’re human beings who require access to healthcare,” Gapka says. “I don’t think there’s been debate within caucus on [this issue]. So maybe this postcard campaign will help for that to happen.”



The postcards features the words “Health care for transsexuals” stamped over with “Denied.” So far, Egale has received requests from organizations across the province for a total of more than 13,000 postcards to distribute through their own networks. Since the Oct 1 campaign launch, all 5,000 of the first run of cards have been given out. The plan is to collect all the filled-in cards and hand deliver these to the premier within a few months.



They’re not expecting every single postcard to come back.



“The people that I’ve distributed them to so far, we’ve been getting really good feedback,” Gapka says. “But for those who don’t know that much about this, they may not return these. But at least they may go to the website and find out more.”



The launch of the postcard campaign coincides with the resumption of hearings before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal for four transsexuals who are arguing that the delisting of SRS violated their human rights. Martine Stonehouse, one of the complainants, spoke at the postcard campaign launch. She says she’s eager to get this ordeal over with.



“It’s been dragged on too long. We should’ve had this finished up long ago,” Stonehouse says.



• The postcards are available at the 519 Community Centre, as well as other locations throughout the province. For more information, check out Egale.ca/srs.