New push to have transgender surgery covered by Medicare

There’s a new push for more elements of gender transition surgery to be covered under Medicare with the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons calling on the government to increase the range of support offered.

As reported by The Age newspaper, the medical body has requested 21 items that cover treatment for gender incongruence to be added to the list of surgeries that are covered by federal funding.

Currently on some parts of the surgical process are covered, leaving people who experience gender incongruence to often spend years of their lives saving for procedures, drawing down superannuation funds, or heading overseas for cheaper and sometimes less safe alternatives.

The application to the government’s Medical Services Advisory Committee argues that the current system is fragmented and needs an overhaul.

They propose a wide range of services should be covered by government funding including gender affirming chest surgery, genital reconfiguration surgery, facial procedures and voice surgery.

In 2021 a petition with 140,000 signatures was presented to parliament calling for gender surgery to be covered. At the time Liberal Health Minister Greg Hunt noted that there had been no formal application to add new items to the Medicare list, something that the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons has now rectified.

Calls to have the surgeries covered by Medicare are nothing new, A Victorian report highlighted the issue in 2019, the Tasmanian branch of the Labor party voted in favour of such a policy in 2018, and OUTinPerth published calls for a policy change back in 2012.

Liberal senator Claire Chandler has voiced her opposition to the application.

“Incredible that Labor is considering this Greens policy backed by Plastic Surgeons lobby.” Senator Chandler said in response to media reports about the application.

A Health Department spokesperson said the application will be reviewed next month, and then may progress to a full review in 2024.

When Anthony Albanese was in opposition OUTinPerth asked him for his views on transgender health care being covered by Medicare.

What we should be doing is providing appropriate health care for those who need it, and that should not be on the basis of some health care is more legitimate than others.

“Clearly people who are going through transition, it’s a very difficult thing. I don’t think anyone does that because it’s easy, I’ve know people, friends who’ve been through that process, and it’s an incredibly difficult time.” Albanese said in 2019.

“I think we need to look at the level of support, there shouldn’t be a financial restriction on people. That should be a principle of our health system.”

Graeme Watson 

Do you need some support?

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counselling are available from:

QLife: 1800 184 527 / (Webchat 3pm – midnight)
QLife are a counselling and referral service for LGBTQIA+ people.

DISCHARGED[email protected] /
Discharged is a trans-led support service with peer support groups for trans and gender diverse folks.

Lifeline: 13 11 14 /

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 /

You can support our work by subscribing to our Patreon
or contributing to our GoFundMe campaign.



You must be logged in to post a comment Login