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Access to gender-confirming surgery for Islanders to improve

Transgender Islanders will now be able to access medically necessary gender-confirming surgeries through the province’s Medicare program.
Transgender Islanders will now be able to access medically necessary gender-confirming surgeries through the province’s Medicare program. - Submitted

Medically necessary gender-confirming surgeries will now be available to transgender Islanders through P.E.I.’s Medicare program.

“I have met with members of the transgender community; I know how important this issue is to them,” said Health and Wellness Minister Robert Mitchell.

Gender-confirming surgery, also referred to as gender affirming or sex reassignment surgery, is a medically recognized treatment for gender dysphoria. Coverage will be based on what most other provinces insure and the process used nationally to provide access to care.

“Gender dysphoria is a recognized medical condition that, left untreated, can result in high levels of anxiety and depression. This announcement brings us in line with what is available in most other provinces across the county,” Mitchell said.

More access to insurable gender-confirming surgeries will help those eligible and for whom the surgery is an important part of their gender transition. Counselling/psychotherapy and hormone therapy have always been funded through the provincial health-care system.

“This is an incredibly important step for the health and well-being of transgender and non-binary Islanders and their supports. For some, these surgeries are a matter of survival and are essential to quality of life,” PEERS Alliance of Executive Director Cybelle Rieber said.

“The acknowledgement and understanding of the medical necessity of these surgeries is an essential part of creating a supportive and inclusive environment. We are confident that as this new coverage is rolled out, pathways to access will be clarified and capacity around trans health-care services, more broadly, will be expanded,” Rieber continued. “We, along with the PEI Trans Network, will continue to work with the Department of Health and Wellness to ensure all needed medical services for transgender and non-binary Islanders are accessible and pathways are clear and transparent.”

Those interested in accessing gender-confirming surgeries can contact their family physician, specialist or community mental health team.

About gender dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is a medical condition that involves a conflict between an individual’s biological sex and their gender identity. Transgender people are individuals whose gender identity and gender expression do not align with the sex they were assigned at birth. In some cases, transgender people seek surgical intervention to make their appearance more consistent with their gender identity.

For more information, visit Transgender Health Services.

What's covered

Female to Male:

· clitoral release

· erectile/testicular implant

· hysterectomy

· mastectomy with chest masculinization

· metoidioplasty

· oophorectomy

· phalloplasty

· scrotoplasty

· vaginectomy

Male to Female:

· clitoroplasty

· labiaplasty

· orchiectomy

· penectomy

· vaginoplasty

Performed in P.E.I.

Hysterectomy, mastectomy (without chest masculinization), oophorectomy, orchiectomy, penectomy

All other surgeries are performed out-of-province.

Who is eligible?
A patient considering gender-confirming surgery should approach their family physician, nurse practitioner or mental health professional. 

The patient would be assessed for clinical eligibility using criteria established by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). This assessment is also required by other Canadian jurisdictions that insure these surgeries. The WPATH assessment involves a comprehensive psychiatric assessment and prolonged medical management before surgery is considered an option.

When the patient has received a positive recommendation from their physician, and approval by PEI Medicare, they will work with a medical team to develop a surgical plan.

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