Transgender people in British Columbia will soon have access to publicly funded gender-affirming lower body surgeries within the province.

Adrian Dix, Minister of Health said those seeking lower surgery had to travel to Montreal or to the U.S. for the publicly funded surgeries.

The problem with that was the additional medical risks associated with travelling long distances after surgery and in receiving followup care if there were complications.

NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert said it’s good news for the transgender community.

“I just know, thinking about the people who came through my office who had faced such difficult health decisions to travel, to save up money, to take on huge debt loads to try and be their full self. And then found they were ill, the surgery didn’t go as well and had to decide, were they going to try and go further into debt to get the help they needed to travel once again across the country or to Austin to try to get the help they needed.”

Reconstructive gender-affirming surgeries will be available within Vancouver Coastal Health starting in 2019.

The number of people travelling out of the province for lower surgeries has been steadily increasing each year with about 100 people going outside of B.C. annually for care.

The program will cost 75 million dollars in 2018-19, and increase to 100 million dollars in 2019-20.