Toronto clinic launches petition to protect access to virtual gender affirming health care

A group of doctors in Ontario have launched a petition to protect access to virtual gender affirming care in the province.

In the Change.org petition, Connect-Clinic in Toronto says it has been providing gender affirming care to Ontarians “by virtual means since 2019.”

“We currently have 1,500 registered patients with close to 2,000 prospective patients on the waitlist,” the petition read. “The changes to the Physicians Services Agreement by the Ministry of Health make it impossible for us to see new patients as of December 1, 2022.”

Beginning Dec. 1, the province will be changing its funding model for virtual visits.

Read more: Ontario and its doctors reach virtual care billing deal, but only for specialists

The clinic said virtual gender affirming care is “lifesaving.”

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According to the petition, gender affirming interventions such as hormone therapy have been “shown to decrease depression and suicidality.”

“This marginalized population’s increased rates of mental health challenges related to transphobia and discrimination contribute to difficulty accessing in-person care – virtual access to care is a much safer and accessible option,” the petition read.

The clinic said virtual care is a preferred method to access care for trans and gender diverse people “since it is a safe way to connect with a culturally-competent physician.”

Read more: Here are the changes coming to Ontario’s publicly funded health care system

By 11:20 a.m. on Tuesday, the petition had garnered a total of 8,414 signatures.

One signatory to the petition said they “cannot get this level of quality of care in person.”

“What virtual healthcare has provided has saved my life,” the comment read. “I know the reasoning behind the changes to make sure doctors provide an acceptable standard of care.

“But by making it hard to provide virtual care, they are making it impossible for many people to get any care at all.”

Global News has reached out to the Ontario Ministry of Health for comment, but did not hear back by time of publication.

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