A transgender woman is at the centre of a controversy over gender confirmation surgeries.
The Ontario College of Surgeons is seeking to change the name of a gender confirmation procedure it is currently conducting in Scarborough.
The procedure, called gender affirmation surgery, involves cutting the lining of a woman’s chest and inserting a small piece of tissue that’s been surgically removed.
The body can be reconstructed using tissue from the woman’s breast tissue.
“There’s no specific reason why a patient would be harmed by surgery, or if the surgery was necessary, it was unnecessary,” said Dr. Susan P. Leggett, a cardiac surgeon at the College of Medicine.
Leggett says surgery should only be done after an initial evaluation is complete.
“If a woman decides she’s a woman, it should be done within three months, after she’s undergone surgery,” Leggitt said.
“I would not say it’s safe or appropriate, but it’s not unsafe.”
Paying for gender confirmation surgeonsThe College of Surgery is asking that the name be changed to Gender Reconciliation Surgery.
It says the procedure has been performed in other provinces including Quebec, where it is known as the gender reassignment surgery.
The surgery has been around for decades and has been linked to some of the world’s worst health outcomes, including breast cancer.
In Canada, gender confirmation procedures cost $15,000, or roughly $12,000 per procedure.
Preliminary results from the University of Toronto and the University Health Network (UHN) show gender reassigned women were nearly three times more likely to have complications and to die than their gender-atypical counterparts.
The UHN says the surgery costs about $1,600 to $1.50 an hour for the surgery.CBC News asked the College to provide a copy of the proposed name change to the surgeon, who said he would need to consult with the college before it could be implemented.
“That’s really the only information we have,” said Pascale Fondren, the director of the College’s Gender and Sexuality Clinic.
The name change will need to be approved by the College before it can be implemented, she said.
The College said it will hold a public consultation in late March and has also sent out letters to local health departments, including Scarborough, asking them to weigh in on the name change.
“The college will continue to monitor the safety and appropriateness of gender reassignement surgery and continue to seek input from all stakeholders to provide the best possible surgical approach,” Legitt said in a statement.