Sex-change operations can now be made for free in Brazil, courtesy of the Brazilian federal government SUS (Unified Health System). The decision that these operations should be done for free was taken a year ago by a Federal judge. The government never appealed the decision despite protests by religious groups.
The decree regulating such surgeries was published this Tuesday, August 19, in the Diário Oficial (Federal Daily Gazette) and recognizes sex change as a "right," as defined in 2007 by the court ruling. The measure formalized today had already been announced in June by the Health minister, José Gomes Temporão.
To be eligible to the operation the person should be older than 21 and will have to undergo two years of psychological evaluation, which will be done by state and municipal health departments. Due to these requirements none of these free sex-change operation should happen before 2010.
These sex-change surgeries. says Brazil's Health Ministry, are not experimental anymore and they have the seal of approval of the Brazilian CFM (Conselho Federal de Medicina – Federal Medical Board).
The Health Ministry believes that 1 in every 10,000 Brazilians will be seeking the operation now that it has become free. About 300 sex change operations occurred in Brazil last year, according to the CFM, but all of them in private clinics, which charge in average 4,000 Brazilian reais (US$ 2,439) for the procedure.
The Diário Oficial text talks about the right people have of getting a humanized assistance free from any discrimination due to their sexual orientation.
"The sexual orientation and the gender identity are factors identified by the Health Ministry," says the document signed by minister Temporão, "as determining and conditioning the health situation, not only for involving specific sexual and social practices, but also for exposing the GLBT (Gays, Lesbians, Bisexual, Transvestites and Transsexuals) population to harm due to the stigma, to discriminatory and exclusionary procedures that violate their human rights, among them the rights to health, dignity, non discrimination."
The text also makes de defense of a transexualist way of life:Â "Considering that transexualism means a desire to live and to be accepted in the condition of being a person of the opposite sex, whichÂ generally comes together with a discomfort or a feeling of inadequacy towards his own anatomical sex, these situations should be approached taking into consideration the wholeness of the health care advocated and to be provided by the SUS."