Victoria Pride Parade 2018 (Colin Smith Photography)

In an announcement on Friday morning, the BC NDP government revealed that gender-affirming lower body surgery for trans people will soon be publicly funded in the province.

As of next year, British Columbia will be the first province in western Canada to fund these surgeries which will be available through 14 surgeons across Victoria, Vancouver, Burnaby, Kamloops, Kelowna, Port Moody, and Prince George.

“The trans community has advocated over a number of years for improved access to care, including access to complex lower surgeries within B.C.,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.

“For those seeking lower surgery, people were required to travel to Montreal or to the U.S., resulting in additional medical risks associated with travelling long distance after surgery and in receiving followup care if there were complications.”

Part of the big picture

While publicly funded breast augmentation or chest construction procedures were already available in Victoria and Vancouver, trans people had to travel to Montreal or outside the country to have lower body surgery.

This initiative is a part of the province’s new B.C. Surgical and Diagnostic Imaging Strategy, which will receive $75 million from the Ministry of Health in 2018-19, and will increase to $100 million in 2019-20.

According to a press release from the provincial government, around 46,000 people in BC identify as trans or gender diverse, and only a few of them have access to medical or surgical services for gender-affirmation.

As of November 1st, 2018, residents of BC have the option of choosing ‘X’ in the gender field for driver’s licenses, ID cards, birth certificates, and BC Services Cards.

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