UK surgeries are seeing patient numbers rise as more people seek to undergo gender reassignment procedures.
Statistics have shown that some surgeries have seen demand shoot up over the past decade as society became increasingly accepting of trans-sexuality, but what is it and what is involved?
What is gender reassignment surgery?
Gender reassignment surgery is a surgical procedure where a transgender person can alter their existing characteristics to resemble that of their identified gender.
Genital surgeries may be performed on the individual who wishes to pursue sex reassignment surgery.
The surgery is part of treatment for gender dysphoria in transgender people, where a person experiences distress due to a mismatch of their biological sex and their gender identity.
It is also sometimes referred to as gender identity disorder (GID), transgenderism or gender incongruence.
Caitlyn Jenner revealed she "underwent gender reassignment surgery in January 2017" in new memoir The Secrets of My Life.
Until 2015, Caitlyn had been known as Bruce Jenner before revealing she was transgender during an interview with American TV journalist Diane Sawyer in April 2015.
Can you get gender reassignment surgery on the NHS?
Yes, gender reassignment surgery is available on the NHS, but may be subject to waiting lists.
Imperial College Healthcare Trust stated that as of April 24, 2017, there were 280 patients on the list for surgery, with 111 patients actively attending outpatient clinics or awaiting surgery. Another 169 patients were under the Trust's care but not currently ready for surgical procedures.
NHS gender identity clinics offer transgender health services but people will usually need to be referred by their GP.
GP referrals for gender dysphoria treatments are usually followed by an assessment by a psychiatrist or another specialist doctor before treatment begins.
In 2014 there were 172 sex operations on the NHS— double the 83 of a decade earlier — costing taxpayers at least £2million.
On average, the waiting time for a sex change therapy is nine months for adults and half this time for kids.
TRANS WOMEN SURGICAL OPTIONS MAY INCLUDE:
- Breast implants
- Removal of testicles (orchidectomy)
- Removal of penis (penectomy)
- Creation of a vagina (vaginoplasty)
- Creation of a clitoris (clitoroplasty)
- Creation of labia or ‘lips’ of the vagina (labioplasty)
- Facial feminisation surgery
- Trachea (or Adam’s apple) shaving
How much does gender reassignment surgery cost privately?
The costs for gender reassignment surgery can vary depending on the complexity of the surgery.
A quote will be made to a patient following a consultation with a surgeon.
According to ITV, the cost of gender reassignment is £19,236 per patient, this figure includes support as well as surgery.
FOR TRANS MEN SURGICAL OPTIONS MAY INCLUDE:
- Chest surgery/ breast removal (double mastectomy)
- Removal of the womb (hysterectomy)
- Removal of the ovaries (oophorectomy)
- Removal of the vagina (vaginectomy)
- Construction of a phallus (phalloplasty) or ‘micropenis’ (metoidioplasty)
- Creation of a scrotum with testicular implants (scrotoplasty)
How does gender reassignment surgery work?
Gender reassignment works by changing genital organs from one sex to another.
Converting a male to a female requires removal of the penis and the reshaping of the genital tissue to appear more female to create a vagina.
Female hormones will then be given to reshape the body and stimulate the growth of breasts.
Female to male surgery involves the creation of a functioning penis from smaller clitoral tissue.
Breasts will often be removed to create a masculine chest area.
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Does Medicare Cover Gender Reassignment Surgery?Print
This article was updated on: 11/03/2017
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Individuals suffering from gender dysphoria may desire gender reassignment surgery. According to the American Psychiatric Association, gender dysphoria involves a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender he or she identifies with. Those diagnosed with gender dysphoria may also be referred to as transgender, or individuals who persistently identify with a gender different from their gender at birth.
What is gender reassignment surgery?
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, that goal of gender reassignment surgery is “to give transgender individuals the physical appearance and functional abilities of the gender they know themselves to be.”
For male to female gender reassignment surgeries there are three categories:
- Facial feminization surgery to transform masculine features of the face into a more feminine appearance
- Transfeminine top surgery to enhance the size and shape of the breasts
- Transfeminine bottom surgery to transform male genitalia and reconstruct it into that of a female.
For female to male gender reassignment surgeries there also three categories:
- Facial masculinization surgery to transform feminine features into a more masculine appearance
- Transmasculine top surgery to remove breast tissue and create a more masculine appearance of the chest
- Transmasculine bottom surgery to transform female genitalia and reconstruct it into that of a male
Specific gender reassignment surgeries, according to transhealthcare.org could include:
- Penile implant
- Hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus)
- Vaginectomy (surgery to remove all or part of the vagina)
- Urethroplasty (surgery to reconstruct the urethra)
- Clitoroplasty (surgery on the clitoris)
- Phalloplasty (the creation of a penis using tissue from elsewhere on the body)
Does Medicare cover gender reassignment surgery?
Sir Harold Gillies performed the first female to male gender reassignment surgery in 1946, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. However, gender reassignment surgeries were considered “experimental” and were banned by Medicare in 1981. As of May 2014, the 33-year exclusion on Medicare coverage of gender reassignment surgery was lifted. Now Medicare Administrative Contractors determine coverage of gender reassignment surgery on an individual claim basis. That means Medicare may cover gender reassignment surgery for Medicare beneficiaries with gender dysphoria whose doctors and health care providers determine there is a medical necessity for the surgery.
Who can get gender reassignment surgery?
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), gender reassignment surgeries have risks, such as bleeding, infection, poor healing of incisions, nerve injury and hematoma. There also risks associated with specific surgeries, such as injury to the urinary tract for transfeminine bottom surgeries. According to ASPS, good candidates for gender reassignment surgery:
- Have been diagnosed with persistent gender dysphoria (this means there may be a waiting period between when you are diagnosed and when you are advised to get surgery)
- Have two letters of recommendation from mental health professionals who support your decision to undergo surgery
- Have been living as a member of the opposite sex
- Have a positive outlook and realistic expectations
- Have reasonably well controlled medical or mental health concerns
Do you have more questions about Medicare coverage for people with gender dysphoria? I’m happy to help. You can request information via email or schedule a phone call at your convenience by clicking one of the links. To see a list of plans in your area that you may qualify for, click the Compare Plans or Find Plans buttons. For assistance, please call me or one of our other licensed insurance agents at 1-844-847-2660 (TTY users can call 711) Monday through Friday, 8AM to 8PM ET.
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