New Ottawa gender-affirming surgery clinic a first in Ontario

A new clinic at The Ottawa Hospital clinic aims to be a game changer for those seeking gender-affirming care in the nation’s capital.

The hospital says it will offer facial, top and bottom surgeries, becoming the first in Ontario to do all three.

Previously, a Montreal-based clinic was the only facility in the country to offer that trifecta, according to the hospital’s news release. 

“It was about one of the best headlines I’ve read in some time,” said Holly Brown, who leads the trans health team at Ottawa’s Centretown Community Health Centre. 

“I have been doing advocacy dedicated toward the provision and access of this health care for the last two and a half years, and this is about the best news that I have received.”

Clinic taking referrals 

Officially launched in September, the clinic is now accepting patient referrals.

According to the hospital, previously patients could only access top surgery in Ottawa, but not facial or bottom surgeries.

No one from The Ottawa Hospital was available for an interview on Thursday, but Brown said many in the region would travel to Montreal or Toronto for certain procedures. 

Brown said she’s pleased the services will be offered closer to home, and said these supports can offer an array of improvements to the lives of trans and non-binary people. 

Travelling could be a struggle

Brown said previously, getting to Montreal or Toronto could also be a struggle for some patients.

“Many folks in this population are experiencing challenges that would make it difficult for them to travel, such as living by themselves, such as lower income,” Brown said.

“These are social demographics of health that are really common for this subset of the population.”

What’s covered varies between provinces, with OHIP funding chest and genital surgeries in Ontario.

Brown said any extraneous costs associated with transitional surgeries usually fall to the patient.

Orange haired trans woman in blue dress stands in front of tree at city hall.
Fae Johnstone, a local trans activist, called the new clinic ‘just incredible.’ (Celeste Decaire/CBC)

Fae Johnstone, a local trans activist, said this will change, save and improve lives in the Ottawa region. 

While she knew such a clinic was in the works, she said it would have been difficult to describe her expression when she learned about the launch.

“It is so hard to access this care. Traditionally, it takes years and it takes personal effort from individuals,” Johnstone said.

“And to have it made easier and to have not just a new clinic, but one that is working in partnership with our existing services — that is just incredible.”

Source: CBC NEWS

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