Medicare will now grant sex-change operations
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Sexual reassignment therapy and surgery, in which a man or woman is schooled and then surgically transformed into the opposite sex is a debatable practice performed in large, metropolitan U.S. cities. Now, such patients - called "transgendered" enrolled in the government-funded Medicare health program can be granted sex-change surgeries. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has lifted a 1981 ban on the practice last week.
Denee Mallon, a 74-year-old Army veteran who was born a man but has been living as a woman for many years, says she plans on having sex-reassignment surgery to match her persona thanks to a decision by the Department of Health and Human Services to cover surgery under Medicare.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - Human rights group have welcomed the U.S. government's decision. They say that this is a formal recognition that sex reassignment operations are medically necessary and an important treatment for those patients who suffer from "gender dysphoria" -- people who don't identify with their biological sex.
"This decision removes a threshold barrier to coverage for medical care for transgender people under Medicare. It is consistent with the consensus of the medical and scientific community that access to gender transition-related care is medically necessary for many people with gender dysphoria," a joint statement by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
"The decision by HHS to allow Medicare coverage of gender reassignment surgery is a significant victory for transgender people's right to basic health care services," Graeme Reid, director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights program at Human Rights Watch said.
Human Rights Watch says the decision will encourage other public and private insurers to adopt similar policies. Nearly 50 million Americans are enrolled in Medicare.
At the heart of the decision is the case of 74-year-old Army veteran Denee Mallon from the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mallon requested a sex change under Medicare two years ago and was denied.
Rights groups and legal experts stressed the fact that the lifting of the ban doesn't mean that Medicare enrollees are guaranteed to obtain gender reassignment procedures.
However, patients now suffering from gender dysphoria will now be able to submit their request for gender reassignment surgery pending documentation from a doctor certifying the procedure is medically necessary.
While many feel the procedure will improve the patients' well-being, it must be stressed that a whopping 41 percent of people who are transgender or gender-nonconforming have attempted suicide sometime in their lives, nearly nine times the national average, according to a sweeping survey released three years ago.
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