The difficult decision to fight for transition coverage or do it own your own.
Cadence Winter started her life as a women in 2009. For Cadence that meant asking people to address her as Cadence and not her birth name of Matthew. Having already worn makeup since the age of 15, Cadence recalls going out on the town in her heels and hair extensions on Friday nights, at a younger age, and how that experience opened her eyes to the realities of the medical aspects of her transition.
The journey began with her first appointment with a plastic surgeon. With her mother as support, Cadence was hoping for breasts, and according to MSP, breasts more than a cup size apart would make the patient eligible for breast surgery. Cadence prayed for radically-variant breasts so she would quality, but her prayers were not enough.
As the journey continued Cadence discovered one revelation after another. She would not be able to have her birth certificate, drivers license, or passport gender designation changed unless she wanted a vagina. To Cadence it seemed a logical requirement. “It scared me and made me feel a lot of self-doubt at the time”. “Growing up I had always been acutely aware of the way people looked at me, and I was aware of who I felt I was inside”. Having met with the plastic surgeon, as well as her gender-specializing psychologist, Cadence was told she would need extensive facial surgery to make her transition complete. Not sure about this approach at the time, she was concerned about the huge costs involved and the ongoing costs of hormones that would be required for life, as well as the fact the cost was prohibitive and not covered.
One of the lessons Cadence speaks of is that once you share your story with the public, it seemed most people would ask the most personal questions regarding her transition and about her genitals.
Cadence was featured on the W Network’s The Cupcake Girls. Her stint on the reality TV Show was not exactly what she had imagined. Thinking her role on the show would help her save money toward her transition were dispelled as she later realized that she was unable to save enough money, and in fact she discovered that having invited Canadians into her personal life, would end up causing her grief. Cadence admits she was not capable of understanding this interest at the time. Thus began a decade of what Cadence calls the “Blur”.
As a result of having been on the TV show, and her popularity in the LGBTQ2+ community increasing, Cadence began to feel the crippling effects of anxiety and depression. The root of which was the inability to pay for the transition she so desperately wanted and needed. For a time, drugs and alcohol became a problem as she struggled to make sense of what this transition process would end up looking like. She felt she had a mans face and had a five 0’clock shadow. This caused numerous problems for her, including being denied an apartment in the West End, as Cadence puts it, “the landlord assumed I was an escort simply because I was trans”.
“I was being called Sir at work, at the doctors office, and by strangers” says Cadence. Her relationship with her boyfriend turned violent. After telling her boyfriend she intended to complete her transition, the relationship hit rocky ground and ended up in court with Cadence testifying against her former boyfriend, who was accused of punching and choking her, and used the trans-panic defense as an excuse, thus leaving Cadence angry and exhausted.
Time to Rebuild Myself
The time had come to take all the negative things in her life and turn them around and rebuild herself as the person she is inside. The boyfriend was now in jail and Cadence checked herself into a treatment facility. The road to recover and a better life had begun. After 10 years, Cadence believes she is on that path of truly “being the person I have the potential to be”.
BC, MSP, Rules, Changes
Laws are changing, in regards to bottom surgery, it is no longer required to change your legal sex. You have the right to change your gender to M or F and live freely, work, access health care, seek an education, and find housing. For Cadence this is all wonderful, but the reality for her is she still deals with discrimination as a result of not being “passable all the time”. The beard stubble, Adams’apple, and square jaw are just some of the things Cadence wants desperately to change. Transition can cost anywhere between 50K to 100K, and most of this cost is put upon the person transitioning. “In a province that says we recognize you as a women, MSP practices say it’s only because you choose to be” says Cadence.
“Who should pay” asks Cadence. Health professionals tell her she needs surgery, facial reconstruction, hormones etc., yet the reality is that despite all the professional opinions and the government recognizing the importance of completing these changes to ensure the person transitioning has a full and happy life, once the invoice is presented the conversation changes. The terminology is confusing as once money is involved it is often referred to as cosmetic. This leaves those seeking transition in order to live normal lives confused, desperate, and behind.
In the meantime, Cadence is not stopping her journey for no one, she is determined to live her life as she always felt it should be lived, despite the long road traveled. Cadence has launched her own campaign to raise funds to complete her transition. Having started a gofundme.com campaign, Cadence is overjoyed by her first donations to the cause.
There is no easy path, it’s difficult and challenging to transition, but doing so is the only option to true self awareness and a happy life. Cadence carries on as she continues on her path to self fulfillment. “The costs are astronomically high, but the costs associated with not being able to have these procedures done are infinitely higher”, says Cadence.