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Gender reassignment cutbacks fought

The first steps in a journey to picking up the pieces of shattered dreams will be attempted by a group of outraged transgendered Albertans tomorrow.

The first steps in a journey to picking up the pieces of shattered dreams will be attempted by a group of outraged transgendered Albertans tomorrow.

Led by 39-year-old Michelle Drinkell, about a dozen people will file human rights complaints toward a government they say snatched their chances at lives reborn, all to save $700,000 in this year’s budget.
“I’m devastated, I have no idea what I can do to save money for surgery,” she said. “I just want to be seen as another person.”

Drinkell joins a list of infuriated Albertans whose sex change operations won’t be funded by the provincial government.

A four-year road of self-acceptance, psychiatric evaluation, laser hair removal, and hormone treatment was set to end in June, when funding for her male-to-female surgery was to be approved.

The decision to axe gender reassignment surgery from the budget was like a slap in the face, Drinkell said.

“Things just got to a point where I couldn’t pretend to be the man everyone expected me to be,” she said. Drinkell knew around age six that she wanted to be a different gender.

Accompanied with almost 20 supporters, Edmontonian Sarah King, 33, will file a separate class-action lawsuit against the Alberta Government tomorrow. She hopes to win an injunction to fund those currently on the surgery waiting list and to have funding relisted.

Drinkell and a group of like-minded supporters plan to attend question period at the legislature today, backed by NDP MLA Rachel Notley, who will submit a stack of letters for public record.

“All we can do is fight as a community and hope for the best that we can have this part of the budget reversed somehow,” Drinkell said.

“Or we might have to wait for another government to get in — we just don’t know.”

 
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