Delays terrible for transsexuals

Last updated 05:00 11/10/2012
Racheal McGonigal
Racheal McGonigal paid for her own gender reassignment surgery.

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This week I was saddened to hear of the recent death of a transsexual. It appears it was a suicide.

OPINION: What caused her to do this? Frustration, loneliness, anxiety, are all likely answers. I can  empathise very much, having tried to kill myself in the past.

Our medical system is partly to blame and also the transgender community.

The woman had an orchidectomy (castration) some years back as part of her transition from male to female.

She'd also had a consultation with the only surgeon who performs gender reassignment surgery (GRS) here and was on the Ministry of Health's Special High Cost Funding Pool for GRS.

There are 53 people on the waiting list and it will take 26 years to clear at current rates.

The surgery is not cosmetic or elective, but necessary. The emotional and mental health of transsexuals is greatly affected by the surgery.

I believe this death could have been prevented if the matter of surgery was taken more seriously.

On top of the pressures this person will have felt while waiting on the list were issues with getting her gender recognised legally by Department of Internal Affairs.

Also, she did not feel accepted by the transgender/queer community or groups.

It is difficult for non-transsexuals to understand the importance of what is needed. Others often over look us as the minority within the minority. The stress and anxiety on a transitioning transsexual is enormous.

How many transsexuals kill themselves because of these frustrations with the system and lack of understanding?

The Heath Ministry needs to realise that if there wasn't this ridiculous waiting list and time there would be fewer costly medical interventions and deaths.

Transsexuals would be less of a burden on society and able to be part of it.

This life should never have been lost.

* Racheal McGonigal travelled to Thailand in 2006 to have the male-to-female surgery performed, but says many people cannot afford to do that.

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