In Belgium, those considering a sex change must wait 15 months on average

Belgians who want to switch sexes now have to wait about 15 months before they can have their first consultation. Deputy prime minister Petra De Sutter says this waiting period is far too long.

Although as deputy prime minister she is a member of the federal government, Petra De Sutter (Groen) is not enthusiastic about the new federal lgbtq+ action plan, which promises to make transgender care more accessible. According to De Sutter, the plan is not specific enough.

"There should be more specialised centres, spread out over the country", De Sutter said in De Morgen.

The need for more specialised centres is apparent from the long waiting lists. At the gender clinic UZ Gent, no fewer than 1,033 people are waiting for an initial consultation. That this waiting period is a real ordeal for some people is demonstrated by a 26-year-old who has been waiting for one and a half years for an intake interview.

"That's an eternity when you feel so insecure about your gender."

Since January 2021, a second gender clinic has been opened in Flanders, at the Ziekenhuis Oost-Limburg. However, people will not be able to go there for an initial consultation until the summer of 2023. For the time being, this gender centre is not yet covered by the Convention on Transgender Care, an agreement that provides for the reimbursement of consultations in various cases.

Whether or not there will also be an agreement with the Limburg hospital will be examined this autumn, when Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) will evaluate and possibly adjust the convention. This will not be enough, however, as there is also a greater need for training in transgender care for healthcare staff.


© BELGA PHOTO Ophelie Delarouzee - Illustration shows Belgian famous statue Manneken Pis wearing a mask at the colours of the rainbow flag of the LGBTQ+ community, in Brussels, Wednesday 10 March 2021.

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