Nova Scotia begins covering breast reduction surgery for non-binary people | CBC News

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Nova Scotia begins covering breast reduction surgery for non-binary people

Nova Scotia’s MSI has begun covering breast reduction surgery for non-binary people following a human rights complaint.

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Change followed a human rights complaint from non-binary individual, Dalhousie Legal Aid says

Nova Scotia Medical Services Insurance (MSI) has begun covering breast reduction services for non-binary individuals.

In a physician’s bulletin on Nov. 4, MSI said the Department of Health and Wellness “has added the diagnosis of Persistent and Well Documented Gender Dysphoria to the list of criteria for MSI coverage for a breast reduction.” The change is effective as of Nov. 2.

According to a news release from the Dalhousie Legal Aid Service, the change followed a complaint to the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission from Sebastian Gaskarth, who is non-binary.

“The new coverage directly acknowledges that gender does not exist as a binary,” Gaskarth said in the release.

“Navigating a human rights complaint is a significant undertaking. In the future, we hope that the government will be more proactive in expanding access to gender affirming surgeries and reduce the need for complaints to drive forward the expansion of coverage.”

Non-binary refers to a spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine.

Previously, gender-affirming surgery in Nova Scotia covered chest masculinization and mastectomy surgeries for transgender men, and breast augmentation for transgender women. 

The province began covering breast augmentations for transgender women last year following a human rights complaint from Serina Slaunwhite, who was denied breast implants in 2017 on the grounds that the surgery was not medically necessary.

CBC has reached out to the Department of Health and Wellness for comment.

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