OPINION

Our health system tolerates transgender people, but does not care

LONG AWAITED: Latrobe's Francene Jacques underwent gender confirmation surgery at 79-years-old, with a cost of about $20,000. Picture: Simon Sturzaker
LONG AWAITED: Latrobe's Francene Jacques underwent gender confirmation surgery at 79-years-old, with a cost of about $20,000. Picture: Simon Sturzaker

The true measure of a society can be found in the way it cares for its most vulnerable members, or so the old saying goes.

You may have seen it floating around on Instagram, slapped over an inspirational nature photo and wrongly attributed to Gandhi.

Regardless of who wrote it and in what context, the words ring true in a way that forces us to take a good look at ourselves.

In today's society there could, arguably, be few people who are more vulnerable than those who are trapped in bodies that don't match their gender.

The story of Francene, a 79-year-old transgender woman from Latrobe, in Tasmania, who waited decades before undergoing transitional surgery, is a common tale for many in the trans* community.

Most of us can only imagine the years of not only "despising" our own organs, but being discriminated against and abused by strangers and loved ones alike.

And they're certainly exposed to ridicule, abuse and condemnation within the cesspit of social media.

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Even within the LGBTQI+ community, says Francene, trans* people are still not accepted by all.

A marginalised group within a marginalised group.

It is therefore not surprising that transgender surgery, much like weight loss surgery or breast reductions, is still widely seen as optional.

Its even less surprising that Medicare rebates are hardly adequate to cover the expensive process.

Australians should be proud that we have a system which allows - for the most part - even the poorest of the poor access to high quality healthcare.

It's a joy and a privilege to pay only a small amount of tax per year and so guarantee a wide variety of affordable health care for those who are elderly, young, poor, rich, privileged and disadvantaged.

But where is the compassion for some of our most vulnerable?

Sure, we may tolerate transgender people, but if we're not supporting them, do we truly care?

This story Gender confirmation surgery should be covered by Medicare first appeared on The Advocate.