Superfour said :
Read this today.
THE HSE paid for 14 sex-change surgeries abroad over a five-year period, it has emerged.
Gender reassignment surgery is not available in Ireland but it can be organised abroad and financed by the HSE under the E112 Treatment Abroad Scheme.
Recent figures show that the HSE received 14 applications for the operation under the scheme between 2005 and 2010, and that it granted them all.
While the HSE could not reveal the total cost of the procedures, as it argued that it was "commercially sensitive", it is understood that such operations could cost up to €63,000, without taking into account the cost of travel and post-operative therapy.
Gender reassignment surgery has been approved for public patients who suffer from Gender Identity Disorder (GID).
It consists of an operation to alter a patient's genitalia to resemble the sexual characteristics of the other sex.
Most patients who applied for the operation under the E112 scheme were treated in Britain where the cost of the operations are estimated at approximately €63,000 for female-to-male procedures and €30,000 for male-to-female transgender operations.
The Treatment Abroad Scheme allows for patients to be treated in the EU or in Switzerland at the State's expense if the treatment is necessary and not available in Ireland.
Patients must provide evidence from a medical consultant that they require the operation.
A Fine Gael politician has expressed concern that sex change operations may not be necessary and remarked that they are controversial.
"There is a body of opinion within the medical profession that considers the surgery to be entirely inappropriate for the treatment of gender identity disorder," Galway West TD Brian Walsh said.
"If, in fact, the surgery is within the definition of what is medically necessary, the question must be asked why the procedures are not provided within the State at present?"
An American psychiatrist, Dr Paul McHugh, has labelled gender surgery "grim and disfiguring" which could be compared to treating someone who suffers from anorexia with liposuction. In the US, the op is considered a cosmetic procedure.
It has been proven in neurology that the vast majority of transgender individuals have the brain archictecture of the opposite sex. Imagine being born in a body that is the opposite sex to your brain? I can't imagine the confusion, trauma, anguish and suffering that it must cause.
To consider the gender reassignment operation as "cosmetic" is as ignorant and callous as one can get. As BorstalBoy opined, this is life enhancing and indeed life saving surgery in many cases.
I've no doubt that in time society will look back and be shocked and appalled at how insensitive and ignorant people were to the plight of transgendered individuals. As most Gaireans are comprised of gay men and lesbian women, we of all people should be acutely aware of the marginalisation and ridicule suffered by the TG community.