Skip to main content

I think it's time for us to talk about trans health care in la belle province

The first panel shows a naked character with a pink body and blue hair saying, “I think it’s time for us to talk about…”

And across a blue ribbon that hides the character’s genitals, it says: “Trans health care in La Belle Province.”
The next panel shows the same character, now dressed, sitting in the waiting room of a medical clinic, saying, “In Quebec, trans people face all kinds of barriers in order to access gender-affirming services from the health-care system. Two health-care services trans people rely on are:”
Here, the comic is split into two panels.   In the left-hand panel, the main character is getting a needle.   A text overtop the character says, “1. Hormone replacement therapy, also known as H.R.T.”  The character says, “This is access to testosterone or estrogen, which allows people to physically change their appearance to be more in line with their gender.”   Overtop the panel on the right-hand side, the text says: “2. Gender-affirming surgery.”  In this panel, the character is being given anesthetic through a mask, as they await an operation.   The character says, “This is the removal or addition or physical gender markers, such as breasts.”
The character is back in the waiting room.   A doctor in the waiting room says, “Mr. Butch Manson? Head to Room 5.”   The character says, in a thought bubble: “That’s not my name or gender. Since my ID hasn’t been corrected with the right name or gender yet, this is how I’m addressed.”
The character is now in the doctor’s office.   The doctor says, “What can I do for you?”   In a thought bubble the character says, “This can be a hard question to answer because, when they seek health care, patients are often expected to come in with a problem that needs to be fixed. This sets up trans people to feel inadequate. The doctor expects me to say all these negative things about myself to convince him that I need treatment but in fact, I’m fine. I just want to feel more comfortable in my body.”
The character tells the doctor, “I want to start H.R.T.”   Then in another bubble, the character says, “Let’s pause for a moment and read an email from the College of Quebec Physicians!”
The character says, “I reached out to the Federation of General Practitioners of Quebec.”   The federation told me “there is no ‘policy’ on how to care for transgender patients, and each doctor will treat based on their level of experience, expertise and comfort with a clinical situation.”  Then the character says, “This means that when patients seek the help and care that they need, the responses from doctors can vary.”
The next panel is divided vertically  into two sections.   At the top of the panel on the left, it says, “Answer 1.”  Below, a doctor tells the character, who has asked to go on H.R.T., “Hmm, that’s interesting … I’m going to need you to get an assessment from a psychologist and get written statements from them before I can give you a referral to an endocrinologist.”   At the top of panel on the right, it says “Answer 2.”  A doctor says, “Sure, no problem! I’ll inform you of the risks and prescribe the medication.”   A note below the divided panel states: “According to The Centre for Gender Advocacy, often you can expect to wait 6 to 24 months to see a psychologist, then another 6 to 12 months from the time the GP sends the referral unit you see the endocrinologist.”
Leaving a community health clinic, the character says, “If faced with a hesitant doctor, some people go to a private clinic to bypass all the hoops.”  The character then stands in front of a door with a money sign on it, saying, “But many can’t afford it.”
The character walks into a pharmacy and says, “Every step of the way, the quality of service a trans person receives can be coloured by whether the health-care provider is sympathetic to trans realities…”
“No matter how many hoops a trans person has already jumped through,” says the character, now standing in front of a pharmacist who is checking their ID.  The character is sweating and looks nervous.  In the next thought bubble, the character adds,  “This pharmacist doesn’t seem to trust me or my ID, which has an old photo.”
The character at the top of the next frame says, “I asked the Quebec Order of Pharmacists what its policy is, and I was told there is none right now.” Then there is an image of a person holding up a prescription with an ID card. Next to that image it says, “It is policy to check a patient’s health-care card in order to validate their identity. At the moment, a patient’s medical file, or dossier santé Québec, must conform with legal documents and ID. However, the order says that pharmacists are not insensitive to trans realities. Some of them have shared trans-inclusive suggestions with others in the order, such as posting reminders in a medical file.”  Then there is an image of a medical file with a note that says, “Mx. Bobbie Drew, they/them.”
In the final two bubbles, the  the character is waiting for a prescription from a pharmacist who says, “Mr. Butch Manson your estrogen is ready for pick up.”   The character says, “There’s only room for improvement … and for health care to become more gender-affirming.”

This piece was produced by the CBC Creator Network, which works with emerging visual storytellers to bring their stories to CBC platforms. If you have an idea for the Creator Network, you can send your pitch here.

About the Author
CBC's Journalistic Standards and Practices | About CBC News
Corrections and clarifications | Submit a news tip