Sex-change surgery delay hits youth

Stuff 14 April 2015  
Kiwis stuck in the wrong gender remain in limbo more than a year after the retirement of the only sex-change surgeon.
Transgender groups are warning young people feeling trapped in the wrong body could take their own lives as they remain marooned on the waiting list for gender reassignment surgery.
Since New Zealand’s only gender reassignment surgeon, Peter Walker, retired in February last year, they have been no new operations.
The Ministry of Health confirmed on Wednesday that 61 people were on the public waiting list to be surgically switched from male to female. Even if surgery resumed tomorrow, it would take more 40 years for all of them to be seen, with only three procedures funded every two years.
One person is also funded every two years for the rarer and more complicated procedure to change from female to male, with the work carried out in Belgium.  A dozen people are on the list for that procedure.
Earlier in April, more than 400 people signed a petition presented to Parliament’s health select committee calling for greater access to healthcare for transgender people, including gender reassignment surgery.

  • New Zealand publicly funds three male-to-female operations (previously done in NZ) and one female-to-male (performed overseas) every two years
  • As of this week, 12 people were waiting for the female-to-male operation
  • 61 were waiting for male-to-female surgery
  • All of those 61 people have been waiting at least a year. Since February last year, three people have had follow-up operations in New Zealand but no-one has had a new gender reassignment procedure.
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