April 13, 2024
Health

Non-binary patient who wants a vagina and a penis sues health chiefs


A non-binary patient in Canada is seeking taxpayer-funded surgery to create a vagina while also keeping a functional penis.

If a court rules in their favour, the patient, 33, from Ontario, will travel to a specialist clinic in Austin, Texas, for the procedure.

The patient, referred to in court documents as KS, was born male but identifies as non-binary. They do not identify as one gender but “literally a mix”, according to court documents.

They argue that forcing them to undergo binary surgery “could be considered an illegal act of conversion therapy as well as a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code”.

Rights group said decision was discriminatory

Ontario’s Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) initially denied the request for the surgery in 2022 on the grounds that the procedure is experimental and is not performed in Canada.

But KS complained to the province’s appeals board, which overturned the decision on the grounds that vaginoplasty shouldn’t inherently include a penectomy.

LGBTQ rights group Egale Canada said the OHIP’s “interpretation (of a vaginoplasty) is exclusionary and discriminates against nonbinary people on the basis of their gender identity”.

The decision prompted a counter-appeal and Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice is expected to issue a ruling in the coming months.

It is unclear how much the surgery would cost, but the clinic, The Crane Center, told the National Post their surgeries range from £8,000 – £56,000.

According to court documents, KS has suffered from gender dysphoria since they were a teenager. They are non-binary but are more “transfeminine” and use she/her pronouns.

Transfeminine refers to people who were assigned male at birth but identify as more feminine than masculine, or tilt towards being female.

KS’s doctor, an Ottawa endocrinologist, wrote a letter supporting the request for the surgery.

“It is very important for (KS) to have a vagina for her personal interpretation of her gender expression but she also wishes to maintain her penis,” the doctor said.

“(KS) is transfeminine but not completely on the ‘feminine’ end of the spectrum (and) for this reason it’s important for her to have a vagina while maintaining a penis.”

Gender treatment ‘off the rails’

Critics told the National Post the request illustrates “how far off the rails” gender-affirming treatment has gone.

“Our public healthcare system is at the breaking point and really needs to focus on procedures that are medically necessary,” Pamela Buffone, founder of the parents’ group Canadian Gender Report, said.

“The patient will not be physically healthier because of the operation, which is likely to result in complications and the need for corrective surgeries and further demands on the health system.”

The goal with phallus-preserving vaginoplasty is to create a vagina that is “aesthetically pleasing” while “maintaining the original genital structure” of the penis, according to the Art Plastic Surgery clinic in New Jersey.

A similar case last June saw the OHIP fund surgery for a civil servant, 41, who had a penis constructed without removing their vagina and uterus.



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