TORONTO — NDP MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre) said it’s wrong that the Ford government refused to pass their bill that would begin to improve access to gender-affirming health care for Two-spirit, Trans, Non-Binary, Gender-Diverse, and Intersex people in Ontario.
On Thursday, the Ford Conservatives denied a motion by Wong-Tam to pass by unanimous consent their private member’s bill The Gender Affirming Health Care Advisory Committee Act. The bill would establish a committee tasked with making recommendations to the Minister of Health on ways to improve access to gender affirming care and transition-related procedures in Ontario. The committee would be made up of members of the Two-Spirit, Trans, Non-Binary, Gender-Diverse, and Intersex communities with diverse lived experiences as well as health care providers.
“Two-spirit, Trans, Non-Binary, Gender-Diverse and Intersex people typically have to wait years and often pay out of pocket to access health care services that are friendly, competent, and gender-affirming,” Wong-Tam said.
“Gender affirming health care is life-saving care, “ Wong-Tam said. “Passing this bill would be the first step in reversing a health care system that has long abandoned Two-Spirit, Trans, Intersex, and Gender-Diverse Ontarians. If Doug Ford and the Minister of Health were serious about fixing the health care system for everyone, they would not have delayed this bill’s passage."
The Gender Affirming Health Care Advisory Committee Act was originally tabled by former MPP Suze Morrison in 2021. It was stalled by the Conservatives and died on the order paper when the legislature dissolved before the election.
MPP Wong-Tam held a press conference earlier on Thursday with advocates for gender affirming health care. They were joined by Heath Salazar, a performance artist and writer; Kristie Kennedy, a parent of a Trans child who is on the waitlist for gender-affirming procedures; Dr. Kate Greenaway, whose clinic provides gender-affirming health care services and Pam Hrick, the Executive Director of and General Counsel for the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund and director of the board of the 519.
Although Wong-Tam’s bill was denied unanimous consent by the Conservatives, it could still be called for second reading.
Pam Hrick, Executive Director of and General Counsel for the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund:
“Gender affirming care is not frivolous. It is not just a nice thing to have — it is a human rights issue. Gender affirming care is life-saving care. We are in the midst of Trans Awareness Week. We will be commemorating the Trans Day of Remembrance this Sunday November 20th. It is well past time to listen to Trans communities and come together to improve gender affirming health care in Ontario. Creating a provincial advisory committee on gender-affirming care, as the Gender Affirming Health Care Act would do, is an essential first step to improving the health and health care of trans, non-binary, 2-Spirit, and gender non-conforming people in Ontario.
Heath V. Salazar, performance artist and writer:
“The repercussions of not being able to access gender affirming care aren’t something I would wish on anyone. When you look at this bill, I want you to know that gender-affirming health care is life-saving care. And I know that because I’ve seen it firsthand in my community.”
Kristie Kennedy, a parent of a Trans child on the waitlist for gender affirming procedures:
“Alexis, my oldest child, has been able to access medication and laser therapy (which is not covered) on their way to becoming themselves. With these steps, I have watched them transform from a child who experienced life-threatening depression into a young person who exudes joy, confidence, and loves life. As parents, all we want is for our children to be happy. Gender affirming health care makes every difference for a child who is Trans. We tell our children they can be anything, so let's let them. Let them be who they are. Have the Ford government make gender affirming health care available and accessible for all Trans folks."
Dr. Kate Greenaway, lead physician at the Connect Clinic in Ontario and author of the Guidelines and Protocols for Comprehensive Primary Health Care for Trans Clients:
“Long wait times to receive gender affirming care are the norm in our province. When I started my virtual gender affirming care practice, I expected to see some gaps in care across the province. But what I found was insufficient care in every part of Ontario. Our gender affirming surgery program in Ontario has no infrastructure. Healthcare services for Trans and Gender-Diverse patients in Ontario have no infrastructure either. What we have is individual providers and clinics who are stepping up for people in need; what we don't have is lasting government and ministry health support for what we do -- and that’s why I’m here to support this bill.”
Stefanie Pest, Trans activist and Ontario NDP LGBTQ Committee co-chair:
"On behalf of myself, a proud Transgender woman and my many Trans and Gender-Diverse siblings, I enthusiastically support MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam's reintroduction of this Gender Affirming Health Care Advisory Committee Act. It has been my dream to see transition-related healthcare made accessible to all those seeking to affirm their authentic gender and gender expression, since my own revelation that I was wrongly assigned my gender at birth. This bill will offer life-saving medically necessary surgeries and procedures using our OHIP covered healthcare system. This is vital, because most people in the Trans and Gender-Diverse community do not have the financial ability to pay out of pocket for transition-related health care. I know in my heart that lives will be saved, and Ontario will become a leader in healthcare for the Trans and Gender-Diverse community in Canada and abroad."