After a Human Rights Tribunal Of Ontario ruling last month failed to order the provincial government to pay for sex reassignment surgery (SRS) for transsexuals, advocates turned up the political heat at a press conference at Queen’s Park. Susan Gapka, chair of the Trans Health Lobby Group of the Rainbow Health Network, was joined by Cheri DiNovo, the rookie MPP for Parkdale-High Park who raised the issue in the legislature; Martine Stonehouse, one of the complainants in the tribunal case; and Greta Bauer, professor at the University Of Western Ontario.
The tribunal ruled only in favour of transsexuals who were already well underway when SRS was delisted in 1998; anyone who has decided to transition since has been out of luck. Though reinstating SRS funding is expected to cost the province only $200,000 a year, Health Minister George Smitherman has refused to add it to the list of procedures covered by OHIP.
“For the small group of people who require sex reassignment surgeries, these services represent a medical need absolutely central to physical and mental health,” Bauer told reporters at the news conference.