Ontario Seeks To Implement A Gender Affirming Care Act
by Collin Wynter
Bill 17, the Gender Affirming Health Care Advisory Committee Act, has been moved to the standing committee on social policy in the Ontario legislature. If passed, the Act will allow the Minister of Health to form an advisory committee to look into “improving access to and coverage for gender affirming health care.”
The committee must be formed within 60 days from Royal Ascent and will submit a report to the Minster to present to the Assembly of recommendations on how to proceed.
The majority of the Gender Affirming Health Care Advisory committee is said to include transgender, two-spirit, non-binary, intersex and gender diverse persons. Health care providers with experience in the field will also be included. The Act also allows for the Minister to include members they believe will make “useful contributions.”
A list of ten factors will be used in selecting the committee to ensure “diversity”. They include such things as: “[p]ersons living with, or who have experienced, homelessness or houselessness” and “[p]ersons who are, or were, engaged in sex work.”
Aaron Kimberly, a transgender man who is a member of Gender Dysphoria Alliance (GDA), believes that detransitioners and parents should be included on the committee. Also, the health care professionals chosen should have a “basic competency to understand the different kinds of gender dysphoria.”
It is unclear at this time if renumeration will be provided for the committee members.
The purpose of the committee is to evaluate eight points in regards to gender affirming care. These include: enhancing coverage for surgical and non-surgical procedures, reducing wait times, ensuring equitable access for “diverse intersectionalities” and expanding insurance coverage to include “affirming facial feminization surgery, chest contouring and electrolysis.”
The act defines gender affirming heath care as “procedures, medical treatments and referral processes that align a patient’s body and physical presentation with their gender identity.”
Recently, a transgender woman in Manitoba won an appeal to have the province cover the cost of facial feminization surgery. The province had originally agreed to pay for genital but not facial surgery.
In an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruling, they deemed that sex change surgery is not required to be legally recognized as a member of the opposite sex.
The Act also seeks to “adopt the informed consent model of transgender,” and “define gender affirming health care procedures as lifesaving procedures.”
Kimberly, on behalf of GDA, is submitting a brief with concerns about the “informed consent model.” Although he agrees that reducing wait times and costs is beneficial, he believes that clinical assessment and psychotherapy are “important interventions”. Informed consent may allow a patient to solely determine their own care. He believes removing these steps may lead to “increased regret” and possible “psychological instability through transition.” Instead, the GDA is recommending for “oversight” and that clinicians must be held to account. Kimberly is a health care provider who has worked with gender dysphoric teens.
To submit a brief or participate as a witness go to the Ontario Legislative website.