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Sex-Change Surgery in Israel Put on Hold

The transgender community is growing, but their access to treatment is not Read More

By / October 22, 2013

Though the transgender community in Israel is growing, their access to sex reassignment surgeries is not. An Israeli doctor has been sent to the U.S. to be trained in the surgery, and he’ll return in 2014. In the meantime, Dr. Marci Bowers, of Colorado, who’s renowned for her expertise in sex-change surgery, is flying to Israel in November to perform surgeries, Haaretz reports.

There is no official data on Israel’s transgender community. Nobody knows its size, how many sex-change operations have been performed in Israel over the years or their success rates. The waiting list for the operation comprises between 12 and 20 transgender men and women, who have completed the approval process and are eligible for the operation, according to the Health Ministry’s sex-reassignment committee. But for 14 months, no operations have been performed, mainly because the Health Ministry did not prepare in advance for the temporary departure of the only surgeon in Israel who is authorized to perform them.

That’s too long without any surgeries for people who need them. When will the Israeli transgender community have more access to the surgeries they need to live their lives? There’s a two-year screening process for those who want the surgery, and there’s always the posibilty they’ll be deemed unfit for the operation. More and more Israelis are traveling abroad to have the surgery.

Further, in the past, Haaretz reports, the Health Ministry didn’t treat the transgender patiends with respect, but things seem to be improving.

The first sex-reassignment surgery was performed in Israel in 1970. Since then, it is estimated that 20 such surgeries are performed per year, on average. Over the years, it has been claimed that members of the Health Ministry committee treated people undergoing the process in a humiliating manner. But members of the LGBT community say they feel new winds blowing. “The previous deputy health minister, Yaakov Litzman, wouldn’t meet with us at all. With the new health minister, it’s already looking different, and we anticipate meeting with her soon.”

Do you think the transgender community in Israel will soon be given more access to treatment?

(Photo by David Silverman/Getty)