A4TE News

Surgeries Postponed During COVID-19


Many transgender people are hurting because their vital gender affirmation surgeries were postponed during the deadly – and still growing – COVID-19 public health crisis.

We understand that people have fought long and hard to get access to medically necessary gender-affirming surgeries, and that postponing surgeries that have finally been scheduled is a major blow for many people. We know it may be especially hard for anyone who is concerned that they may no longer have the same insurance coverage when a procedure is able to be rescheduled or may otherwise face new barriers to care. We know that just having a surgery date scheduled can help relieve many people’s gender dysphoria, and unexpected delays like this can bring it roaring back.

At this time, with the novel coronavirus spreading rapidly in every state, and hospitals experiencing or expecting severe shortages of beds and supplies, no one who doesn’t absolutely need to be at a hospital should be.

Accordingly, most hospitals are postponing and rescheduling any procedure that isn’t an emergency, including many medically necessary surgeries such removal of slower-growing cancers, knee and hip replacements, many spinal surgeries, and many surgeries to relieve serious chronic pain. Basically, most hospitals are postponing even necessary surgeries unless they believe it cannot safely be postponed for a few weeks or months.

We know that the startling facts of the crisis in our nation’s hospitals do not change the hardship to all patients facing postponed procedures. While the hardships may be magnified for some due to continuing problems of discrimination in health insurance, we believe that in this situation hospitals are doing the best job they can and are—for once—not singling transgender patients out.

We urge anyone who is struggling right now in the face of a postponed procedure to reach out for support while maintain the lifesaving physical distancing that is still essential to slow this pandemic. Call a friend, a loved one, a therapist, a helpline, or connect to community or wellness programs online. You can find links to resources on NCTE’s COVID-19 resource page.

When this crisis is over and hospital capacity is no longer critically strained, providers should work with you to reschedule all postponed procedures. If you face discrimination in any form in rescheduling a procedure down the line – or in getting any urgent care at this time – please check out these Know Your Rights During COVID-19 resources and consider reaching out for legal help, starting with the legal organizations listed here. If you have trouble with your health insurance coverage, visit NCTE’s Health Coverage Guide.

Please, stay home and avoid physical proximity to anyone outside your home as much as possible at this time. Reach out to a health care provider if you feel ill or in crisis. Take care of yourself and others as we all do our best to get through this global crisis.

By Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen

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