Coming out as transgender resulted in a big change in Blair Curtis.
The once shy young man has said doing so left him feeling that he could be who he was.
That was just over a year ago and as part of transitioning he started to take testosterone.
Getting set to start university next month, the 18-year-old from McIvers is ready to take the next step in the transition process.
“Top surgery is kind of my last step in transitioning,” he said.
The surgery he refers to is a complete mastectomy to remove his breasts.
Right now, he wears binders, but they are uncomfortable and can be painful to wear. They are also limiting as he can’t wear them to go swimming.
“Yes, it’s nice it does make my chest look flat, but to actually have it flat would be the best thing ever,” he said.
“When I’m showering and I have no clothes on I’m still reminded every time that I look down that this chest that I don’t want is still there. And it’s not going to go anywhere until I get the surgery.”
Curtis said he started talking about having the surgery with his mom, Gerri-Lynn Curtis, a couple of months ago.
But he’s found it’s not going to be an easy process.
Newfoundland only covers the mastectomy and not the masculinizing or contouring of the chest after.
To be eligible for the surgery a person first has to be put on a wait list to see a psychiatrist at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH), Gender Identity Clinic in Toronto. That doctor will recommend whether or not the person should have the surgery.
He’s heard the wait time is supposed to be 18 months, but has a friend who has been on the list for four years.
And he has concerns with the reconstruction not being covered as he feels that is needed to make top surgery look right.
Curtis is aiming to have the surgery next summer, but to take it on as a student — while studying psychology at Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook — is a big endeavour.
He’s working two jobs this summer and works through the school year. He’s also busy running a trans support group that he recently started with his mom.
A few days ago, Curtis put up a GoFundMe campaign (https://www.gofundme.com/topsurgery-fundraiser) to raise the money — estimated at over $10,000 — that he’ll need to get the correct surgery.
Even though his life has become more public in the last few months it was still hard to reach out.
“I don’t like asking for help from other people, but there comes a time, I think, when everyone in life needs a little bit of help from someone else.”
Curtis has shared the link to his campaign through Twitter with the hashtag #blairsdreamsurgery.
In Newfoundland and Labrador the cost for eligible transition-related surgery is covered by the provincial Medical Care Plan (MCP) when the procedure is completed at a publicly funded health centre in Canada and prior approval has been received from the department.
To be eligible for surgery through MCP, a referral is required from the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH), Gender Identity Clinic in Toronto, Ontario. At CAMH, the individual is assessed for surgery readiness and treatment recommendations are provided.
When surgery has been recommended by CAMH, and is available at a Canadian public facility the following procedures are covered by MCP:
Female to male
Male to female
When provided by a private clinic, the above surgeries are only eligible for MCP funding if the surgery is not available at a public facility in Canada and the surgery has been pre-approved by MCP.
In these cases, the patient’s primary care provider should forward the CAMH assessment and recommendation(s) for treatment to MCP for consideration.
Financial assistance for eligible out of province travel for a CAMH assessment or transition-related surgery is available through the provincial Medical Transportation Assistance Program (MTAP). For more information on MTAP, please visit http://www.health.gov.nl.ca/health/mcp/travelassistance.html.
The department is currently working to identify and propose a new local assessment process to help ease access to these services.
Source: Health and Community Services