About Me

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NSW, Australia
I'm made it past 50! married for over half my life, have 3 kids all grown and I'm loving this part of my life.I was a nurse in my younger days but an unhealthy dose of rheumatoid arthritis put a damper on my career,so I'm at home with the internet.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Whats a girl to do?

Being born with parts of anatomy that don't match the chemistry in your brain is not a personal choice, not only is there a public stigma but it seems a beaurocratic one as well.

As you know my daughter is a transgender girl. More than a year in now and it's a pleasure to see her so happy. What would make her happier though is to have the surgery to give her the rest of her female body, this doesn't even take into account that she has long had a medical problem that this surgery will end once and for all.

Herein lies the problem. Money. It costs at least $10,000 dollars to have the surgery presuming that some item numbers are covered by medicare.
It seems there is only one doctor in Australia at present ,Proffessor Bennet,who is capable of this surgery and has retired from the Public Hospital System.
He recently offered to do suregery on a young biological woman born without a vagina, but NSW health will not allow it.Apparantly she can go through Sydney Childrens hospital as a public patient but the doctors really don't have the expertise for this surgery.He has treated 130 girls in the past 5 years, the birthrate is 1 in 5000.

If this is the case for bilogical girls with genital problems, where does this leave the transgender community male or female?
There is a 2nd doctor,Ass. Proffessor Grover who is away o/s training and will not be back until 2011. Even if he operates in a pbulic hodpital there is still the high cost of surgery because of medicare and what is covered and what is not.

I cannot find statistics for transgender numbers , the statistics I did find are grim ,suicide 1 in 5. The turmoil this group of people go through is incredible.They are fighting what their society tells them they should be and look like, discrimination, ridicule, families who feel personally affronted.
Why is it so hard in our society for people to get their head around the fact that some peoples brain and body don't match. Especially men, I don't understand how they are threatened by this.There is not some secret enclave of transgender girls out to trick and shame them somehow and funnily enough the type of male that is so offended is the guy these girls never wanted to be let alone hook up with.
Discrimination for being transgender is illegal in Australia, but in day to day living and getting on, it doesn't seem to matter, try finding a job, accomodation , giving your female name out with a male sounding voice , the 2nd and 3rd looks etc.
There have been some wins in our story though, very early in transition, just after Chloe had changed her name,she had to go to Canberra hospital for surgery.I have to give Kudo's to them,they were so professional and understanding,no raised eyebrows ,funny looks,they addressed Chloe as Miss and used all the right pronouns,that put me to shame at the time...I was just learning, and it's soemthig I will always rembember.It was extrememly encouraging for both Chloe and I, esp considering the nature of her problem and how early in transition she was. Her employers have been excellent,one would wish all employers so enlightened.

But back to surgery. It is about time that in this country SRS surgery is covered in its entirety by Medicare. Just recently Young Bridget Clinch appeared on SN and Sunrise and highlighted this issue. Bridget is in the Aust Army and had to fight to have her surgery covered my medical , she fought them and won as she will be a good Captain male or female. Thats a very simplified sentence describing her journey as it is her story to tell, but Bridget does highlight that this surgery is free in the Defence Force and in the Prison system in Australia. And borrowing from Bridgets reasearch several other countries fund SRS the UK, Canada, Iran and Cuba.
Its about time Australia follow suit.
So this is my bandwagon, feel free to jump aboard, I've started letter writing to the Health Minster ,the PM etc If enough of us write and mention the Australian Human Rights Commission report 2009 's reccomendations for transgender ,then we might be able to force changes.

I must be getting shorter, it's taking me longer to jump down from my soapbox lol


  1. Good stuff. There's still a long way to go in Australia. I sometimes wonder if one of the issues with transgender is that we have very narrow ideas about what sexuality and gender is - black/white with no shades of grey. If people were freer to express variations of identity, rather than conforming to a narrow set of rules, maybe it would be easier.

    I remember recently reading about the creation of a legal third gender (in Pakistan of all places, and possibly Nepal.)

    You write well, keep blogging!

  2. I know what you mean, I was listening to the view on tv this morning and they wer talking about halloween costumes, most of the panel would not let their boys dress up as wonder woman but yet the girls could be superman etc or toys, taking hte barbies off the boys for goodness sake.
    a 3rd gender exactly what we need:)

    Thanks , I need the encouragement :)

  3. Wow, I had no idea it was so bad in Australia. I focus a lot on what goes on here in the US. I think from what you've mentioned on Facebook, that Chloe has considered Thailand. It's not my first choice either, but it's much cheaper than anywhere else, it seems. Wherever she goes to get this done, I wish you both the best of all possible outcomes!

  4. thanks Amy, hoping for a big lotto win.Its about 15-20k we need to find, so jess can go too,lol, and they have to be there a month.
    So I'm hoping it will be quicker if I chase up the health dept .

  5. Good luck , I'm surprised that Australia seems so behind, they seem to be ahead in lots of other things.

  6. Hi,

    I live in Canberra and was operated on by Dr Peter Haertsch in Concord (Sydney) back in 2002. His website states that he still performs GRS at a private hospital in Sydney (Canada Bay) although I'm not sure how up-to-date the site is. Back then it cost about $13,000. My private health insurance covered my week in hospital.

    I think trans issues are just too difficult for politicians to get their heads around. It was nice to hear Warren Entsch (Liberal!!) raising the problems faced by trans folk in his speech in Parliament last Monday. He said, among other things, "I am very keen to establish a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender parliamentary friendship group where gays and lesbians can have direct access to MPs to discuss issues of direct concern to them. This will help us to bring these issues out into the open and I believe it is an essential step in moving forward to greater equality."

    Perhaps you should try contacting his office to let him know of your concerns about the cost of surgery.

    It seems to me that Chloe is a very lucky young lady to have a mum like you.

  7. thanks for your help and the compliment ")

    I will definatly add Warren Entsch to my letter writing, I didn't hear the speech, I'll have a look for it on the net.
    Chloe enquired at Dr Haertsch, it's about 30k now and medicare only covers about 10k of it. There are many item numbers not covered.

  8. 30k!!! It seems that the more that is covered by Medicare the higher the doctor charges!

    The link to Hansard is (House of Reps Hansard for Monday 15 Nov 2010). The speech by Mr Entsch is on page 100 of the Hansard (which is page 122 of the pdf document)

  9. I know, Dr Heartch charges $300 for a consult,they won't give any info over the phone,you have to make an appt. I think the gap is around $180.ouch.I've been letter writing, no repies,other than its been forwarded to the correct person etc.thanks for the link, I'll go peruse now :)

  10. iamnotamuse,Thanks for the lead :)I recieved a personal call from Warren Entsch, he couldn't help personally, but gave me a couple of ideas to follow up on .Nice man, has no personal experience in this area,so I think he might have pesky persistant constituents> lol He's very much involved in getting the friendship group up and running next year and will keep me posted.

  11. In Canada, my province and Ontario, the largest province, three women had to spend nine years (NINE YEARS!) suing the government to honor the health commitment for surgery they made. The surgeons in Canada are in Quebec and okay, but not great, UK can be brutally bad. Neither have any surgeons for female to male (which can cost up to $90,000). So Canada doesn't actually pay for surgeries, and for intersex children or the 1 in 2000 of ambigious genetalia, it is not pleasant or professional what is done.

    I do feel that a medical condition this studied, with now 4 generations of doctors, patients and clinical follow ups, it has a success rate which is higher than almost any other surgery and yet it is a specialization that is not encouraged or even requires special training, which considering it combines neurology, urinary and cosmetic combined, should be a field highly trained and government paid.

    I think the cost is why some countries specialize in these surgeries, as they have been after care and follow up and can make it a surgery/vacation - much in the way people go to India to have dental work or heart conditions, I think Thailand and Jamacia used to be where more doctors had trained and done this work.


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