VICE Story Warns ‘Life-Saving’ Trans Surgeries Postponed Due To Deadly Coronavirus Could Have Consequences

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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  • A VICE News story lamented the postponement of transgender surgeries due to the deadly coronavirus, suggesting this could have severe effects on transgender mental health.
  • More than 256,879 people are infected and more than 10,000 people have died globally from the deadly virus.
  • “Though medical facilities may soon become overtaxed for everyone, the coronavirus pandemic has shed light on how transgender people’s care can be treated as ‘non-essential,'” VICE’s Kaye Loggins wrote.

A VICE News story lamented that transgender surgeries are postponed due to the deadly coronavirus as “nonessential” surgeries, suggesting that delaying these procedures could have severe effects on transgender individuals’ mental health.

Transgender surgeries across the globe have reportedly been postponed as hospitals and health departments order all nonessential surgeries to be delayed, according to VICE reporter Kaye Loggins. VICE has not responded to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation. (RELATED: Massachusetts Bans ‘Non-Essential’ Procedures Like Colonoscopies, Knee Replacements, Allows Abortions)

The publication’s Thursday story, “As Hospitals Prepare for COVID-19, Life-Saving Trans Surgeries Are Delayed,” stated that this is a continuation of transgender care being targeted as “nonessential,” and that such surgeries are “lifesaving.”

Loggins, who declined to comment for the DCNF, noted in the story that “research has suggested that gender-affirming surgery, in particular, has a notable and long-term impact on mental health, but far too often, transgender people already wait far longer than is safe or healthy for this care. Further delays can be dangerous and even life-threatening.”

This photo taken on January 28, 2020 shows medical staff members cheering up a patient infected by the novel coronavirus in an isolation ward at a hospital in Zouping in China's easter Shandong province. - China faced deepening isolation over its coronavirus epidemic on February 1 as the death toll soared to 259, with the United States leading a growing list of nations to impose extraordinary Chinese travel bans. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

This photo taken on January 28, 2020 shows medical staff members cheering up a patient infected by the novel coronavirus in an isolation ward at a hospital in Zouping in China’s easter Shandong province. (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

More than 256,879 are infected and more than 10,000 people have died globally from the deadly virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

VICE spoke with several transgender people who face surgery postponement or whose surgeries have already been delayed. None of them mentioned in the article that they considered trans surgeries to be “life-saving.” Several of these people expressed understanding for the postponement of their surgeries, though they also expressed anxiety and sadness over postponement.

Executive Director at Mount Sinai’s Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery Joshua Safer told VICE that “postponing all non-emergent gender-affirming surgeries,” will protect “transgender and non-binary patients from the risk of transmission of COVID-19 while at the hospital, and will allow the hospital the capacity to care for critically ill COVID-19 patients.”

“This is the third time it’s been postponed,” 23-year-old trans man Riley Cooper told VICE, regarding Cooper’s upcoming top surgery.

Cooper could not be reached for a request for comment from the DCNF. (RELATED: LGBTQ Groups Warn They Are ‘Particularly Vulnerable’ To Coronavirus Due To Smoking, Cancer, Discrimination Rates)

Cooper added: “It’s getting more and more heartbreaking to keep getting so close to something that will make me feel better and feel like I’m in the right body for once. Every time I feel like I’ve gotten close, something has to come along to take it away.”

“I’ve spent my entire life falling asleep while begging any theoretical omnipotent beings to let me wake up in the body I need to feel comfortable, and, [in May], that was finally going to happen,” 29-year-old trans woman Violet Jones, whose surgery might be postponed, told VICE.

Jones did not respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.

“To lose that security would really harm my mental health and make it feel like it may never actually happen,” Jones added.

40-year-old trans Wales woman Abigail, who did not give VICE a full name for privacy reasons, is recovering from surgery. Abigail said the surgeon checked to make sure Abigail understood the risks of coming into indirect contact with the coronavirus through staying at the hospital during Abigail’s immediate recovery period. 

Though Loggins wrote that “necessary follow-up care may be in jeopardy because of COVID-19’s effect on hospitals” for those in recovery after recent surgery, Abigail’s quotes do not specify that the patient is not receiving necessary follow up care. In fact, Abigail noted that the ward is “half empty.”

“It’s an odd atmosphere,” Abigail told VICE. “The ward is half-empty. [The nurses] know there won’t be any other patients like me for a while, nor any other recipients of [non-urgent] surgery. They know coronavirus patients will be coming, but they’re not here yet.”

Abigail added: “The waiting times are [extremely long] and nobody knows when things will get back to normal. None of us are angry at medical staff, or even the decisions, but at the system — which is so lacking in resilience, and lets us down so regularly.” 

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