September 1, 2017
Alberta Can Show Pride by Removing Barriers to Trans Health Care
Unequal access to hormone replacement therapy causing wait times
Friends of Medicare are calling on the Government of Alberta to mark Calgary Pride week by removing barriers to health care for trans patients, and end the practice of unequal access to hormone replacement therapy.
"Trans patients needing hormone replacement therapy in Alberta can be waiting for more than two years for access to needed medications," said Executive Director Sandra Azocar. "The same medications are provided as needed through general practitioners for cis patients - those who identify with their sex assigned at birth. This creates discriminatory access to health care that should end. We hope to see the Government celebrate Pride and commit to removing this barrier for trans health care."
"Informed consent models for trans health care are being adopted in clinics like the Catherine White Holman Wellness Centre in Vancouver, the Howard Brown Health Centre in Chicago and others," said Azocar. "This approach to trans health puts trust in the patient while still providing guidance and support from medical professionals. In Alberta, the gatekeeping model still exists. Nearly all trans patients are told they must be referred to a psychiatrist, and then to an endocrinologist for access to needed medicines. Those medicines can be provided without these steps and simply through a general practitioner as they usually are for cis patients, typically cis women. This gatekeeping is the biggest contributor to excessive wait lists."
"It would also save the system money to move to informed consent. Costs for psychiatrist and endocrinologist referrals would be avoided, a win for a Government looking to "bend the cost curve" in health," added Azocar. "We also know moving to an informed consent model is a manner of harm reduction, as trans patients who do not get medication when they need it may seek out street drugs or engage in self-harm and even commit suicide. We can save lives by removing these barriers."
"We need our Government to make a commitment in policy to adopt an informed consent model as the right decision for cost savings, human rights, and ultimately patient care," concluded Azocar.
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