My appointment in Victoria went very well yesterday.
I met with BC’s SRS surgical assessors, Drs. Gail Knudson and Oliver Robinow, for about 30 minutes. I’ve never seen a psychiatrist before so I was a bit nervous, but they were both friendly and easy going. We talked about things like where I live, who I live with, what I do for work, my history of gender issues, substance use, my transition thus far and future plans, and a little about my family. We didn’t really touch on my education, friends, hobbies and interests, or my medical and mental health history.
For documentation, I presented my driver’s licence and BC Care Card, Change of Name certificate, a letter from a client, and a letter from an organization I volunteer with.
With regards to the concerns I highlighted about meeting the employment criteria, they did NOT accept the letter from my client to prove RLE (Real Life Experience). The problem is that I do not meet the majority of my clients in person, and a “public workplace” does require in-person interaction. MSP does NOT consider telecommuting as an acceptable form of public employment to support RLE. Thankfully I had that volunteer letter!
At the end of the appointment, they informed me that they would be recommending to MSP (Medical Services Plan of BC) to fund my hysterectomy. My request for funding still needs to be approved by an MSP tribunal, but it’s extremely unlikely that they would deny the application with the recommendation to fund from the surgical assessors.
What sort of applicants are denied funding? People with substance abuse problems, instability, indecision. They want to see that you have your life together and have enough stability to be able to get through surgery. I imagine that I would have been denied had I applied when I was in my 20s. Thankfully, I was pretty unaware of the implications of my gender variance at that time!
It will take about two months to receive the approval letter in the mail from MSP. At first, Dr. Knudson recommended that I go ahead and book a surgery date with Dr. Matthew Bagdan, but when I mentioned that the waiting period for a date was only 6-8 weeks, she thought it might be best if I hold off for a bit since the funding has to be in place before the surgery can take place. (I think the waiting list to see Dr. Tregoning in Abbotsford, BC for this procedure is quite a bit longer, in the area of 4-6 months.) She also mentioned that Dr. Bagdan is an excellent surgeon, and is very well-respected in the field of gynecology.
Before I left, I told the doctors about my plans for bottom surgery. I will need to present two support letters to the surgeon performing bottom surgery, as per the WPATH Standards of Care. I plan to get one from Dr. Preece, the psychologist I see on occasion in Vancouver, but could I see either Dr. Knudson or Robinow for the second letter? Dr. Knudson informed me that the assessment I’d just completed would satisfy the requirements, and that they will be sending me a letter of support. Wow! I just assumed I’d have to go through another round of assessment (at my expense) for that second letter! Aside from seeing Dr. Preece now and again, I don’t have any further required psychiatric reviews to go through. That part of my transition is officially over.
I was pretty nervous about this assessment, but it went better than expected, and my funding for the hysterectomy should be in place by March. I’m not excited about a hysterectomy in the same way that I was excited about top surgery. I don’t take any surgery lightly, and it’s not likely that I’ll be showing off my laproscopic incision scars like I bare my chest in the summer. Once complete however, I’ll be able to apply for a new birth certificate and passport that show both my new name and the male gender marker. I’ll be more than halfway to home free. (Which is a weird expression I now realize… I won’t be homeless, just closer to home.) Post-hysto, I should also have a surge in beard growth, and that is very exciting indeed!