Catherine Mateo

I’d like to nominate myself for the PHSA Transgender Program Review
Steering Committee

I’m worried that we won’t have representation for folks outside of the
coast and want to make sure their voices are heard as I don’t think
most people living in Vancouver understand how different the situation
is outside of this region.

Some health authorities are openly hostile, claiming that they don’t
have to treat trans people because VCH does.  In IHA, letters to
patient care directors and ombudsperson’s offices on trans issues go
unacknowledged and unanswered and psychiatrists use non trans billing
codes for trans patients out of fear that the health authority will
crack down on them.

As for me – in 2008, I started my transition in Kelowna. At the time,
there were no trans resources in Kelowna – and while seeking
resources, I was even told by a psychiatrist that they didn’t “believe
in gender identity disorder” and that I should stop trying to find
resources as it wasn’t a legitimate condition. Another supposedly put
me on a “priority list to the gender clinic” which had closed a decade

Realizing that there was no way that I would be able to access
competent, caring medical care in Kelowna – and having the finances to
do so – I travelled repeatedly to Vancouver for medical care and a
sense of community.

I quickly realized the benefits of a group and started one in Kelowna.
While initially small, it grew quickly. At this time, we currently
have approximately 50 members on our facebook page and another 20 or
so members who don’t use facebook (and also had a few dozen people go
“stealth” and leave the community)

Running this group for years gave me an intimate understanding of the
issues trans people living outside the coastal areas.  I learned that
trans medical care requires a holistic approach – it’s not merely
enough to have a doctor, but low income patients expected to travel
across the province should be educated on travel subsidies so they can
make it to their appointments, patients should be pointed towards
PharmaCare if they are unable to pay for medications, patients should
have a post surgical care plan in place before going to surgery, etc.

A few other things I can bring to the table are
–          A history of advocacy and searching of resources for trans
people in the less populated parts of BC.
–          Awareness of various faults of the current system, ranging
from difficulties accessing post surgical care to the lack of
information available to doctors
–          Knowledge acquired from keeping up with the academic
literature and policy guides written on trans medical care /
resolutions from medical bodies and sharing that information with
future medical personnel such as UBC-O nursing students and other
–          Strong connections with a growing community outside of
Vancouver (Although I moved to Vancouver in 201, I regularly host
people who come to Vancouver for medical care)
–          Ability to analyze situations to identify gaps and suggest
–          A history of working with vulnerable youth when I ran the
Kelowna chapter of PFLAG Canada.
–          Experience with the Transgender Health Program’s Advisory Group.

Having seen too many nightmare outcomes, I’m passionately dedicated to
the issue of competent and timely post surgical care, but I fully
realize that there are other equally serious issues that face our
community, such as the lack of buy-in from various health authorities
in BC

I believe that I can contribute greatly to the process of analyzing
the current system, recommending and implementing best practices and
creating plan for the future.