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As private procedures cost from R450 000 to R600 000, many transgender patients have no choice but to wait.
One transgender man, who goes by the pen name Dylan Marx, is in the process of publishing a book about his experience. “Every time I had an operation, I had such a positive buzz because it meant that I was getting closer to my goal.” Marx’s first surgery at Groote Schuur in 1997 was a hysterectomy which removed the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
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“My breasts gave me a lot of anxiety and I used to bind them with tape, which hurt my posture and made it difficult to breathe,” he said.
“When I woke up after my mastectomy, I reached up and touched my chest.
I can’t describe the sense of psychological relief I felt in that moment.” A plastic surgeon who works closely with transgender patients said budget cuts at the hospital were part of the reason for the long waiting list.
Transgender people living in Cape Town, something of an invisible community, face a range of healthcare and social struggles.
Weekend Argus reporter Bethany Ao, a visiting US journalism student, lifts the veil on the issue in part one of a series. The Transgender Clinic at Groote Schuur Hospital, often referred to as the best unit of its kind in the country, is one of the only healthcare centres tailored to the needs of transgender patients.