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Trans people in New Zealand can face a 30-year wait for surgery

By Fabio Crispim

The Guardian reports

that transgender people waiting for sex reassignment surgery in New Zealand have been told that they could face a wait of more than 30 years.

This comes after Dr Peter Walker, the only specialist surgeon, retired.

Lynda Whitehead, the president of trans advocacy group Agender spoke to The Guardian and said, “It’s a wretched situation” and, “The last few years have been devastating for the trans community.”

New Zealand was the world leader in reassignment surgery in the 1990’s since the cost of the procedure was low and the progressive attitude of the surgery attracted people from all over the world.

Then, in 2014, Dr Peter Walker retired and no one has replaced him since. Walker said that he approached every plastic surgeon in New Zealand and asked if they were interested in taking over.

“It is a very complex surgery and no one wanted to take it up,” he said.

Now, since Walker’s retirement, the waiting list for the surgery has risen to more than 70 and members of the trans community have said that they are “desperate” and “frustrated” by the situation.

In a statement by the ministry of health, they anticipate that state-funded overseas surgeries will begin in 2016 or 2017.

Speaking to The Guardian, Vic Roper said that he saw “no point” in joining the waiting list as it would take too long and he “would be too old to appreciate it.”

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