The Yukon government has announced changes to significantly improve access to gender-affirming health care, including surgery for Yukoners.
A new policy through Yukon’s Insured Health and Hearing Services has expanded health care insurance coverage to include a comprehensive list of surgeries and other procedures identified by the transgender and gender diverse community, and that align with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s internationally recognized standards of care that support individuals for gender transition. In addition, the Yukon government is also providing enhanced access to hormone therapy.
Development of this new policy supports the Yukon government’s larger action plan to improve LGBTQ2S+ inclusion in programs and services within government. The policy supports our vision of continuing to improve health and wellness outcomes for all Yukoners. These changes are consistent with the recommendations of the Putting People First report to enhance health equity and provide more people-centred, holistic care.
Over the past four years, our government has made many changes to legislation, policies and practices to support a diverse, inclusive society that promotes LGBTQ2S+ rights, equality and freedom from discrimination. The lack of access to gender-affirming health services, including surgery, represented a significant unmet healthcare need within the transgender community, often preventing transgender individuals from leading happy and healthy lives in our territory. We are pleased to provide public health care coverage of these important procedures, as part of our people-centred approach to wellness that helps Yukoners thrive.
Minister of Health and Social Services Pauline Frost
Through our extensive engagement with Yukon’s LGBTQ2S+ community we have heard that transgender health care is a top priority. This new policy addresses the broad array of gender-affirming health care needs in a progressive, dignified and inclusive way and will make a positive, transformative difference in the lives of Yukoners who need these services.
Minister responsible for Women’s Directorate Jeanie McLean
The policies were developed in consultation with Dr. Michael Marshall, a psychiatrist with a specialized focus on the health and wellness of the gender diverse population. Dr. Marshall is the president of the Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health.
The policy was also reviewed by Dr. Gail Knudson, past president of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). Both Dr. Knudson and Dr. Marshall facilitated the WPATH training in Whitehorse in 2019 that was delivered to over 100 health professionals working in the territory, the first time in Canada such training was offered at no cost to participants.
Many transgender people will seek medical assistance to bring their physical appearance in line with their gender identity. This could include hormone therapy and/or surgery. The new policy notes the provision of hormones and other gender-affirming procedures are not cosmetic and are life-saving for transgender people.
Transition-related surgery, also known as TRS, refers to a range of surgical options people may require for gender transition. This is also known as sex-reassignment surgery (SRS), gender-confirming surgery (GCS), or gender-affirming surgery (GAS).
Delaying or denying access to transition-related health care can cause significant harm, and research has demonstrated that completing a transition for those who need it can considerably increase a person’s wellbeing. The new policy commits government to review and update it upon a new release of WPATH’s Standards of Care.