Transgender Health

Trans Care BC provides valuable information and resources about gender-affirming care (primary care, hormone therapy, and/or surgery) in British Columbia.

The following information about health coverage available to students, faculty and staff is a descriptive summary provided for convenience only. Actual coverage is determined by the official plan or program, which may change from time-to-time. In the event of a discrepancy with this descriptive summary, coverage is determined by the official plan documents or applicable program. Individuals are encouraged to contact the appropriate plan or program provider directly for up to date information and to confirm applicable coverage.

Health insurance for UBC students is provided through Pacific Blue Cross. This plan does not explicitly indicate that gender-affirming care is covered and you may need to speak directly to a representative about your specific insurance needs.

Hormone Therapy

The AMS/GSS Health Plan covers medications listed in the BC Fair PharmaCare Formulary, including most forms of hormone therapy (such as taking testosterone, estrogen, or androgen blockers). A special authorization form may be required. If you are encountering barriers to access necessary care, make sure to connect with Trans Care BC.

To find out if a specific medication will be covered, you can search the BC Fair PharmaCare Formulary. You need the Drug Identification Number (DIN), generic or brand name for the medication you need. For example, the DIN for Depo-Testosterone (testosterone injection) is 00030783 and the DIN for Aldactone 100mg (spironolactone tablet) is 00285455.

If you are enrolled in the Fair PharmaCare program, depending on your income, many hormone therapies will also be covered.

Gender-affirming Surgery

MSP (Medical Services Plan) provides coverage for the following surgical procedures:

  • Lower-body surgeries:
    • Orchiectomy
    • Vaginoplasty
    • Hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy
    • Clitoral release
    • Metoidioplasty
    • Phalloplasty
  • Upper-body surgeries
    • Chest surgery
    • Breast construction in some limited circumstances (the attending specialist physician must send a medical recommendation to confirm that breast tissue has been insufficient after 18 months of hormone therapy, that there is significant asymmetric growth, or that hormone therapy is contraindicated)

You can find more detailed information about the process of getting gender-affirming surgery funded by MSP on the Trans Care BC website.

Procedures that are not funded by MSP (such a facial feminization or electrolysis) are not covered by the AMS/GSS Plan. However, you can always request an estimate to confirm whether or not a particular procedure is covered.

Health insurance for UBC staff and faculty is provided through Sun Life. This Sun Life plan does not explicitly indicate that gender-affirming care is covered and you may need to speak directly to a representative about your specific insurance needs.

Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy (such as taking testosterone, estrogen, or androgen blockers) should be covered like other drugs requiring a prescription. A special authorization form may be required. If you are encountering barriers to access necessary care, make sure to connect with Trans Care BC.

In order to find out if a specific medication will be covered, you can use the Look Up Drug tool on the Sun Life website. You just need the Drug Identification Number (DIN) for the specific medication you need. Go to mysunlife.ca, log into your account, click on Benefits Centre (on the right), then go to the Coverage / Drug tab to find the Drug Look Up tool. For example, the DIN for Depo-Testosterone (testosterone injection) is 00030783 and the DIN for Aldactone (spironolactone) is 00285455.

If you are enrolled in the Fair PharmaCare program, depending on your income, many hormone therapies will also be covered.

Gender-affirming Surgery

MSP (Medical Services Plan) provides coverage for the following surgical procedures:

  • Lower-body surgeries:
    • Orchiectomy
    • Vaginoplasty
    • Hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy
    • Clitoral release
    • Metoidioplasty
    • Phalloplasty
  • Upper-body surgeries
    • Chest surgery
    • Breast construction in some limited circumstances (the attending specialist physician must send a medical recommendation to confirm that breast tissue has been insufficient after 18 months of hormone therapy, that there is significant asymmetric growth, or that hormone therapy is contraindicated)

You can find more detailed information about the process of getting gender-affirming surgery funded by MSP on the Trans Care BC website.

Procedures that are not funded by MSP (such a facial feminization or electrolysis) are likely not covered by the Sun Life plan. However, Sun Life recommends requesting an estimate from them to confirm whether or not a particular procedure is covered.

A level of education has been provided to most administrative staff in UBC Student Health Services. All nurses and physicians have received training and physicians are able to help students find the resources that they need. As with any unit, there may be a range of knowledge and competencies amongst individual staff.

If you need more information or a specific referral, you can contact UBC Student Health directly.

The majority of UBC counsellors, wellness advisors, and counselling services front desk staff have received Positive Space training from the UBC Equity & Inclusion Office. Staff also have opportunities to receive additional training on trans competency specific to clinical practice. As with any unit, there may be a range of knowledge and competencies amongst individual staff.

If you need more information or a specific referral, contact UBC Counselling Services directly.

Trans competency starts with making sure that your unit takes steps to have inclusive forms and to ask clients about pronouns.

You can also demonstrate trans competency when interacting with clients. Here are some examples:

  • "My name is X, I’m going to be your nurse today. My pronouns are XX/XX. How would you like me to address you?"
  • "Is there anything you want me to know about your body, gender or sexuality that would allow me to provide the highest quality of care?"
  • "Thanks for sharing your issue with me. I’m trying to decide the best things to suggest, do you have a uterus or a cervix? Is that because you’ve had them removed or you’ve never had them?"

We encourage you to ask these types of questions in-person so that you can demonstrate trans competency, explain the context for why you need this information, and give your clients a chance to share with you relevant details of their lived experience.

For detailed information on providing trans competent primary care, check out the following resources: