October 10, 2021
A transgender who couldn’t bear to look in the mirror and see a man staring back has won an appeal to have Manitoba taxpayers foot the bill for out-of-province facial feminization surgery.
This is a first for paying for any facial feminization surgery, although Manitoba Health picks up the tab for surgery to change genitalia.
The unidentified transgender, diagnosed with gender dysphoria, has not undergone gender reassignment surgical procedures, but does take feminizing hormone therapy.
In the appeal heard in July, the board reviewed renewed arguments the gender dysphoria which focuses on outward appearance, specifically the face, causes great “anxiety” and fear of “being identified as a male” as well as fear for “physical safety.”
In a 2109 appeal that was dismissed, the board reasoned facial feminization surgeries “are essentially elective plastic surgery, for which there is no coverage.”
However, medical personnel and a psychologist since came forward to suggest the gender dysphoria be addressed by undergoing facial feminization surgeries.
This latest appeal was unanimously approved by a four-member Manitoba Health’s insurance division board.
“The appellant can only see a male face when she looks in the mirror although, inside, she feels fully female,” documents say.
Manitoba has no one practising in this specialized reconstructive surgery area. A willing plastic surgeon in another undisclosed province said certain surgeries could make the transgender’s “face less masculine.”
“The board is satisfied that the appellant demonstrated that in her case, the facial feminization surgeries, as opposed to ongoing counselling, or genital surgeries are key to tackling her gender dysphoria,” says the decision.
The board agreed the transgender is “suffering significant psychological distress” affecting mental and physical well being.