Hope Air Offers Free Airfare to Trans Medical Appointments
For transgender individuals who cannot afford the cost of travel to medical appointments or procedures like Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS), the charity Hope Air might be a beacon of real hope.
“We help Canadians get to medical care that is not in their community,” explains Johanna Kubetschka, Client Care Director of Hope Air. “Our services are for everyone, but it is especially important for transgender folks.”
For 30 years, the national non-profit charity has provided over 110,000 free flights to people so they can access the healthcare they need.
“We help low-income families or individuals, regardless of what the illness is and if they have a confirmed specialist appointment,” says Kubetschka.
Transgender individuals can make a flight request either by calling Hope Air or by going to their website to fill out the travel request form. To make a request, individuals need to provide basic information about themselves and their medical appointment like a date of birth, address and confirmation of dates and routes. The travel request form also collects information about a person’s legal gender (salutation), as it is required by airlines for travel bookings.
Only individuals with appointments that are covered by a provincial healthcare plan and who are medically approved to fly are eligible for the Hope Air program.
In some cases, Hope Air covers the cost for one companion to fly with an adult client after a physician has confirmed that this support is medically required for them to travel safely.
“Once someone has made a travel request, we determine if they are eligible by assessing their income information,” says Kubetschka. “In most cases, we are able to assist.”
Unfortunately, many transgender people in Saskatchewan face discrimination in the workplace as well as unemployment and poverty. This makes it difficult for many to access basic needs like food and housing–let alone finding a way to cover the cost of out-of-province travel for psychiatry appointments or GRS.
Coupled with the difficulty of navigating unclear and constantly-shifting rules relating to transition (not to mention outrageously long wait times), these struggles can make it hard for transgender people in Saskatchewan to be optimistic about their future.
As the only registered national charity of its kind, Hope Air provides a much-needed service to gender diverse people across Canada. But this organization offers something more than just free travel–it offers hope to hundreds of gender diverse people across Saskatchewan struggling to access basic health care related to their transition.
“I remember one time someone emailed us and they said that their surgery was so important to them because it was helping them be the person they want to be,” recalls Kubetschka. “We’re here to bring you from A to B, but we want to show that we care.”
Visit Hope Air’s website or reach them by phone at 416.222.6335 or toll free at 1.877.346.4673. You can also email them at [email protected] Click here to access Hope Air’s online travel request form.