Should gender reassignment surgery be publicly funded?

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Transgender people have among the highest rates of suicide attempts of any group in society, driven strongly by the perception that they do not belong in the sex of their physical body. Gender reassignment surgery (GRS) is a procedure that can change the transgender person's physical body to accord with their gender identity. The procedure raises important ethical and distributive justice concerns, given the controversy of whether it is a cosmetic or medical procedure and the economic costs associated with performing the procedure. This paper argues that there is a strong case for funding GRS as a matter of clinical necessity and justice. This paper will be divided in four key sections: First, the state of transgender health will be outlined, including the role of GRS and common objections to it. Second, a number of common objections to GRS will be analysed at the outset and shown to be unconvincing. Third, a constructive argument will be advanced, arguing that publicly funded GRS is clinically necessary, cost-effective, and demanded by principles of justice. Fourth, the paper will briefly discuss moralistic biases and why we demand a higher burden of justification for funding GRS compared with other analogous procedures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-534
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bioethical Inquiry
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2018


  • transgender
  • gender reassignment surgery
  • health resource allocation
  • distributive justice


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