At Home: Human-rights complaints filed by transgendered Albertans
In reaction to the province’s recent decision to drop funding for sex-change operations, at least 23 Albertans filed human-rights complaints on April 15.
Prior to last week’s budget cuts, Alberta funded up to 20 gender reassignment surgeries (GRS) each year. As the CBC reports, the decision will save the government around $700,000 annually.
Alberta’s coverage has been the most comprehensive in the country. Some provinces, including Saskatchewan, Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia, and Newfoundland and Labrador, provide partial coverage for the cost of the surgery.
In Ontario, GRS has not been covered for the past decade, but the province lost a human-rights challenge in 2008 and will begin paying for the surgeries there.
However, Lindsay Blackett, Alberta’s minister of Culture and Community Spirit who oversees the human rights commission, isn’t convinced that the Ontario challenge will affect the outcome of the recent filings in Alberta.
As he told reporters, ?We have a slightly different process, and we have slightly different value systems and a way of thinking in Alberta, and since most of the people on our commission are from Alberta, they may look at it a little differently than Ontarians do.?
The decision is a major blow to Alberta’s transgendered community. With the cost of GRS as high as $80,000, few can afford it, but they argue that the surgery is a life-saving procedure. At least one psychologist agrees.
?These people have felt from nearly day one that they are in the wrong body and that they’re very unhappy and distressed,? Dr. Kevin Alderson told reporters, adding that the risk of depression and suicide is very high.
The government will cover the GRS costs for 26 Albertans whose funding has already been approved, as well as another 20 patients who have started taking hormonal drug therapy.
In Foreign News: Egypt lifts ban on GPS
Citing security concerns, Egypt has been resolute in its ban on GPS?but a recent reversal means consumers will now be free to shop for popular brands of cell phones and cars that use the technology.
The Egypt Daily News reports that the ban has been lifted by the country’s National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA). North Korea and Syria are now the only two countries in the world that ban the use of GPS.
Now that consumers will be free to purchase GPS-equipped goods, a boom is expected in the auto and telecom sectors, two areas where the technology is commonly used. Not only will import companies be allowed to trade in previously banned models of cars and cell phones, but manufacturers in Egypt will be able to make and export such products as well.
Certain restrictions will still apply, however. The NTRA will retain the right to ?monitor and control? the manufacture of GPS-equipped devices, as well as to set criteria for exporting them.
In spite of the previous ban, Egyptians had found ways to acquire the technology, from using Google Earth to buying GPS items on the black market.
Along with the economic boost the decision is expected to have, It’s been speculated that the NTRA ruling was simply a way to better regulate the already existing use of GPS.