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Corrections Canada Policy Reversed for Trans Inmates
 
ONLINE:  WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 16, 7:33 PM EST (GMT-5).

CORRECTIONS Canada will soon be reversing its policy to make treatment available once again to transsexual prisoners who meet certain criteria, the Canadian Press reported.

The decision follows the settlement last fall of a complaint made to the Canadian Human Rights Commission by an inmate.  Synthia Kavanagh claimed discrimination on the grounds of disability and sex due to being denied hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery.  In addition, the parole board believed her transsexuality had played a role in her offense and should be addressed prior to release.  The claim was settled confidentially.

In the broader picture of trans rights, it is a very important landmark victory.
- lawyer Barbara Findley
 
 
Kavanagh is now waiting for further surgery following the breast enhancement ones she's received.  Her lawyer was quoted as saying "Synthia is very happy and very proud and so she should be."  Her femininity has been conspicuous in the male prison system.  After being transferred and spending 6-months in solitary living conditions out of fear, she will be transferred again to a women's facility following the surgery.

Kavanagh was convicted of murder in the 1987 hammer killing of a transsexual prostitute in Toronto.  She was sentenced to life imprisonment with parole eligibility in 15 years.

The policy change by the federal government's prisons is being heralded as a huge step forward.  "In the broader picture of trans rights, it is a very important landmark victory," lawyer Barbara Findley told the Canadian Press.

Sex reassignment surgery for Canadian inmates has been disallowed since 1997 and hormone treatment for transsexual prisoners reportedly rare.  But even with this policy change Ontario inmates may never actually come to receive treatment.  The procedure is apparently to refer them to The Clark Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto which requires surgical candidates to live as the desired gender prior to the surgery.  The Clark reportedly does not regard prison life as meeting its criteria for 'living.' Furthermore, the Institute similarly does not support pharmaceutical treatment for inmates unless such is a continuation from pre-prison life.

Inmates in the country's Pacific Region, on the other hand, are referred to The Vancouver Hospital where views are less conservative and treatment more easily obtained, according the the CP report.

Gender reassignment surgery is estimated to cost $30,000.