The New Zealand government will address a decades-long wait for gender-affirming surgeries with an extra NZ$3 million in funding.
Previously, the government only funded two operations a year, with 163 people on the 50-year waiting list.
The increase of $3 million over four years will allow 14 more people to get surgeries each year.
“This initiative improves the health sector’s capability in delivering transgender health care,” the 2019 Budget papers read.
“This will be done through funding an increase in the number of gender affirming surgeries, responding to a 50-year waiting list for surgery and growing demand.”
New Zealand’s Ministry of Health puts the average cost of male-to-female surgery at nearly NZ$43,000. For female-to-male surgery the cost is close to NZ$219,000.
Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter said every New Zealander “deserves access to healthcare they need.”
“For some people it’s life or death if they get access to this gender affirming medical care,” she said.
Funding will lift a financial burden on some transgender people
Ahi Wi-Hongi, national coordinator of Gender Minorities Aotearoa, told 1 News the funding would lift a large financial burden on some New Zealand trans people.
“Some people if they had assets like a house they were maybe re-mortgaging or they were selling [to fund their surgeries],” they said.
“We also know it’s been very difficult to find a doctor who will refer them to the waiting list because it’s been seen as pointless, with a 50 year waiting list.”
But the group said they would continue to advocate for the funding to be increased. The group want a six-month wait on surgeries for trans people.
Alison MacDiarmid from Agender NZ told 1 News she funded her surgery herself and it changed her life as a result.
“I was able to get on with my life and do all the other things I wanted to do with my life,” she said.
“Instead of having this great big thing sitting in the way of progressing my education and my career.”
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