The Myths Of Holland is a three part blog by Dutch transgender blogger, Feather. In this short series she will look to dispel some of the misconceptions we might have about people in her country.
I'm Feather, a transgender girl from the Netherlands, hopefully still working in IT as an Administrator by the time this is placed.
Also a sexual deviant that just doesn't care what everyone says. Pre-ops for another 7 months or so, currently living together with my lovely girlfriend (my cute little room-elephant :P ) and our two cats.
I love to ride in italian cars (wrecks) I borrow from a friend or ride something with just 1 horsepower (sometimes a Frisian).
After talking to a lot of foreign LGBT-folk lately, I got the impression they had the idea that the country I live in was like the "Walhalla" for transfolk (I'll talk about the T first, later on about the LGB.)
I was so agitated, because the reality is different.
So to clear those pretty looking mists of Avalon, I mean, the mists that are surrounding the Netherlands at the moment I started to write this one time only column.
The Fairy Tale goes as follows:
In the Netherlands, everyone is insured for Public Healthcare. You pay a fee every month varying from 90 to 100 euro's a month for basic insurance. So great, everyone is insured, no problems there.
Every basic insurance is the same, because the rules of what is insured or not is determined by an institute, called the CVZ (For those few that read Dutch: College Voor Zorgverzekeringen.)
How that really works, no idea, but the general impression of them is alright. Certainly because they declare that we are insured for the GRS. Also for 10 laser treatments for MtF for treating the beard growth.
And lately they declared that certain "2nd grade" gender traits were insured for treatment as well. (Like Adams apple, the forming of the chin, etc.). If the CVZ gives such a declaration, the insurance companies are obligated to pay for the treatments they mention. They basically declare it "law". Because our Dutch health insurance law refers to the CVZ as the rule maker in regards of health insurances.
This is the part where the Fairy Tale ends and the nightmare begins.
Nightmare number 1: So, we're all insured, but with different "commercial" insurances, some of them have no interest in profit, others are, etc. etc.
I'm insured with VGZ, in the sight of the consumer, it appears they have no interest in making profit. This was one of the reasons to insure myself for healthcare with them.
They also refer on their website that they offer great Healthcare for Transsexuals. (Changing my gender was no problem for instance.). But getting the money I need for the laser-treatments is the biggest problem so far.
In November 2009 the genderteam at the VUMC asked authorization to get the laser treatment. I got the greencard. I had 2 treatments with no problems and after that the bills bounced. The first was in March 2010. Ever since then I'm trying to get my 10 laser treatments paid as which is declared in the law. So far: nothing.
Nightmare number 2: As of January first, the hospital I'm receiving my treatment from, the VUMC in Amsterdam, had to cut in costs. So, the bills for the laser treatments for the downstairs area isn't being paid anymore by them.
So, Today another authorization is asked by the genderteam from the VUMC to pay for my laser treatments downstairs. Haven't we heard that before?
The other option is to change the way they perform the GRS, to remove the hair follicles while performing the surgery, but the VUMC won't go for that.
So, luckily I have an aunt who will pay for it in the meanwhile, because I can't afford another waiting of 2,5 years before I'll get the money from the insurance company. (That's my personal expectancy.). But the genderteam declared to me by phone that the insurance company has to pay for this, because it's the law. Right.
Right now nightmare number 1 is awaiting the decision in a desk somewhere with VGZ. Because the people who deal with problems between consumer and health insurance companies (Again for the Dutch-reading people, the SKGZ.) are rather slow working. Because according to them, insurance companies need 6 weeks to reply in writing.
So, I took my case to the SKGZ in December 2010, after my insurance company declined my request 3 times. (They do six weeks to reply, remember?)
And apparently several e-mails and letters with the rejections isn't enough writing for the SKGZ, so they asked for another. That was 3 weeks ago.
I think they will decline the request, and do that several times, until we reach 2012, just like they did last time. Somewhere I think they wanted me to change Health Insurance, but since their attitude towards transsexuals is so terrible, that I decided to stay. (In the Netherlands you can change health insurance only once a year, which is January 1st.). Because it's the law that says I'm insured for laser treatments. And who says it's different with other insurance companies? We're a country of almost 17 million people. And us transgenderfolk who want treatment are about 800 a year. (Very old numbers from the genderteam.). So we're rather outnumbered and not really considered a priority for insurance companies who insure the other 17million minus 800 .
I've heard other rumours from transfolk in the Netherlands saying it's just as bad.
Member of Parliament, Mathieu Hemelaar asked in 2009 to the Minister of "VWS" (Let's say Healthcare.) if he received "signals" that most transsexuals were denied certain treatments? (Like breast reconstruction / enlargement, testiprotheses and laser treatment.). Luckily the Minister answered positive, but he also stated that most of these treatments weren't considered medically necessary.
So our Minister wouldn't do a thing about it. He is not the Minister of Healthcare anymore, because we had elections, good riddance. But the tone is set.
There are some improvements; 3 ministers have been making a proposal to change the Dutch law for legally changing your gender. (The truth is: they wanted to put less weight on judges.). That was 3 years ago. We're still waiting for the official proposal, but it seems 2/3 of those 3 are not a Minister anymore as well.
So, part 1 of the Netherlands in a summary:
The law says you cannot do drugs, but our Ministry of Justice say you can do marihuana.
That works the same way for transsexuals. You are insured for Laser treatment but cannot get any.
I'm not done yet about The "Myths of Holland"; so stay tuned for my next column.
- Miss Feather
Comments? Questions? Anything?