Trans people in New Zealand face 30-year wait for gender reassignment surgery


Transgender people in New Zealand seeking to have gender reassignment surgery have been told they face a thirty year wait after the only specialist surgeon has retired.

Despite being a world-leader in the surgery in the 1990s, since the only male to female gender reassignment specialist surgeon in the country retired in 2014, trans people have been told of the gargantuan wait, reports the Guardian.

Dr Peter Walker, who is now in his mid-70s, has said he approached many other surgeons to ask if they would specialise in the surgery.

He said: “It is a very complex surgery and no one wanted to take it up.”

But he has continued to push the New Zealand Government to appoint his replacement.

“People didn’t have the time, or the inclination, I don’t know. But it is fascinating surgery and fascinating patients – work that truly changes lives,” he continued.

One trans man told the Guardian that he was told he should expect to wait 32 years for the surgery, which he said equates to “another 32 years of living like a half-person”.

Around three male-to-female and one female-to-male surgery is funded by the New Zealand Government every two years, but since Dr Walker has retired, the waiting list has risen to over 70 people.

The ministry of health in the country has said it works with endocrinologists and psychiatrists who can help to refer people for treatment in other countries.

It is expected that state-funded overseas gender reassignment surgeries will begin in 2016 or 2017.

But some have already given up hope, some saying they would not join the waiting list for fear that their operation would never actually come.

The trans man said he was remortgaging his house to raise the money to get the surgery in the US.

He said the length of time he was told to wait was the “end of the dream, really”.

The Government also faces pressure from a private surgeon who provides top surgery to trans people, to post someone to the position immediately.