There’s only one sex-change clinic in Canada
The public’s understanding about transgender issues has grown in recent years, thanks in part to people like former U.S. Olympian Bruce Jenner coming forward. But while awareness is growing in Canada, so are the waiting lists for surgery.
There is currently only one clinic in Canada where transgender people can seek transition surgery and the wait times can stretch to two years.
James Gardner would like to see that changed.
James Gardner in his early days as a radio announcer, when he was known as Sheila Gardner.
Three years ago, the 56-year-old Victoria, B.C., radio announcer with CFAX transitioned from being “Sheila” to being “James.” While Gardner is glad to have finally made his transition public, what he wants now is genital surgery to complete the change.
Gardner says he knew he was different from an early age. He hated wearing dresses, didn’t like playing with dolls and realized he was attracted to girls.
Growing up, he says he felt uncomfortable in his body, feeling like who he was inside didn’t match his outside, but didn’t understand why.
“For me, it was just not being comfortable in my body. I would feel like I was an imposter,” he recently told CTV News.
Gardner lived most of his adult life as a lesbian and says while he didn’t dislike being a woman, he says he never felt right about his body. Then, a few years ago, after doing some research, Gardner says he realized he was transgender.
“I actually had the epiphany where I was like, ‘Oh, that’s what it is,'” he says.
From there, it was an easy decision to start making the transition into a man. He began taking testosterone injections, which helped him grow facial hair and deepen his voice. Then he had a double mastectomy to remove his breasts, which he describes as a total relief.
“It just felt natural. It felt good,” he says, adding he’s had a lot of support from his friends and family, including his 90-year-old mother who he says accepts him for who he is.
Now, Gardner wants to have surgery to build male genitals, a procedure called a phalloplasty. But, as he’s documented on his blog, he’s hit a roadblock and can’t even start the process for a year and a half.
That’s because there is only one clinic in Canada that performs complex genital reconstruction surgery, the GRS clinic in Montreal.
Men transitioning to women typically need to wait six to eight months to begin surgery at the clinic, while the wait time for the more complex female-to-male surgery is between 18 months and two years.
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