Those on the waiting list for sex changes will have to have them done overseas following the retirement of the country’s only gender reassignment surgeon.
Peter Walker, a registered medical specialist in plastic and reconstructive surgery based in Christchurch, who has been performing sex change operations since 1992, announced his intention to retire earlier this year.
There are 61 New Zealander’s still on the waiting list. Currently the New Zealand public health system only funds three male-to-female operations (at around $50,000) and one female-to-male (performed abroad for around $100,000).every two years.
Until recently, Walker was part of a three-surgeon team based in Christchurch that has performed 62 male-to-female gender-reassignment surgeries. These were not limited to just Kiwis wishing to have the operation. Perviously, when the NZ dollar was weak and the operation rare, private patients flocked from abroad, but of late, most of the unit’s work has been publicly funded operations on New Zealanders.
But in February this year, Walker retired and the operations stopped. His eyesight is still excellent, his hands still steady, but at 72 it was time to retire.
With Peter Walker now gone, gender reassignment surgeries have now completely stalled. “Until someone comes back from overseas with an interest in transgender surgery, I’m afraid nothing is going to happen. New Zealand might just have to send the patients overseas.”
Article | Levi Joule