Tax­pay­ers slugged for De­fence sex surgery

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS - IAN MCPHE­DRAN

TAX­PAY­ERS were hit with a $648,000 bill for sex change and breast en­hance­ment pro­ce­dures for serv­ing mem­bers of the Aus­tralian De­fence Force over 30 months.

This in­cluded 13 cases of gen­der dys­pho­ria (gen­der iden­tity dis­or­der), 10 from male to fe­male, and 15 breast en­hance­ments be­tween Novem­ber 2012 and April 2015. It did not in­clude phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals is­sued by De­fence.

The air force led the way, with six mem­bers un­der­go­ing gen­der iden­tity treat­ment and eight hav­ing breast en­hance­ments. The army had five gen­der cases and four breast pro­ce­dures, leav­ing the Royal Aus­tralian Navy with two and three re­spec­tively.

ADF mem­bers re­ceive free med­i­cal ser­vices as part of their ser­vice con­tract. Health care for mil­i­tary per­son­nel costs tax­pay­ers $300 mil­lion a year.

De­fence said not all 13 of the gen­der dys­pho­ria cases had un­der­gone surgery.

“Man­age­ment of gen­der dys­pho­ria can be com­plex and gen­der re­as­sign­ment surgery is not per­formed in all cases,” it said. “De­fence pays for some but not all as­pects of the man­age­ment of gen­der dys­pho­ria, in­clud­ing surgery. Eq­uity with Medi­care is the guiding prin­ci­ple for con­sid­er­ing health­care en­ti­tle­ments at public ex­pense for De­fence mem­bers. Th­ese gen­eral prin­ci­ples also ap­ply in the man­age­ment of gen­der dys­pho­ria.”

The to­tal bill for the gen­der pa­tients, in­clud­ing surgery, was $395,000, or about $30,000 each. De­fence was un­able to say how many of the breast en­hance­ment pro­ce­dures in­volved can­cer pa­tients and the bill for the 15 cases was $253,000, or $17,000 each.

In 2012, the to­tal cost of all ADF plas­tic surgery pro­ce­dures was $3.5 mil­lion for 1500 cases, or $2300 each. This in­cluded breast en­hance­ment and re­duc­tion cases.

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