Referral for GRS in AotearoaHow to get a referral in the public health system.
Yes! Genital Reconstruction Surgeries (GRS) are available in New Zealand for transgender patients, and may even be covered by public funding.
Changes in recent history
As of 2018, there is a surgeon in NZ – Dr Rita Yang, who performs public funded or private (self-funded) surgeries.
These include penectomy (or zero depth vagina), vaginoplasty (penile inversion or Sigmoid colon technique) for trans women and transfem people.
For trans men and transmascs, she preforms metoidioplasty, and phalloplasty, with or without urethral lengthening. She can provide testicle implants and erectile implants as required.
She has trained internationally with top surgeons in several countries, and has very good surgical outcomes.
Dr Yang also performs private top surgeries, breast augmentation, facial feminisation, thyroid cartilage reduction or augmentation, hair transplant, gluteal augmentation, lipofilling, liposuction, and pectoral implants.
Dr Yang is based Wellington at Wakefield Hospital.
The cap on the maximum number of Genital Reconstruction Surgeries per year has been lifted, and is now the minimum number.
$3million was allocated for GRS from the 2019 government budget for the next 3 years (aprox 13 – 15 surgeries per year). This fund is called the Gender Affirming (genital) Surgery Services fund, or GAgSS. It is separate from the High Cost Treatment Pool (HCTP).
The waiting list is now much shorter than it used to be – currently around 10 – 12 years. This is still outrageous, but it’s quarter of the 40-50 year wait it was only a few years ago.
At mid 2020, the wait list was around 200 patients, which put the wait time at around 12 years. A year before that, the waiting list was 50+ years. It may significantly reduce again soon if the government puts more funding toward trans health, or becomes more efficient.
We continue to advocate for the list to be cleared, and hope that this will happen in the next few years.
How you can advocate
It is Members of Parliament (MPs), not the Ministry of Health, who decide whether to allocate funding to finance surgeries.
We urge you to meet with your local MP, write letters, and keep pushing until the waiting list meets the national standard – that all surgery waiting lists should be less than 6 months.
Referral criteria and process
As of 2023, the government has taken responsibility for providing information on the process of referral, so we will no longer be maintaining a detailed guide.
You can find the main information you need here.
The Gender Affirming (Genital) Surgery Service
Updates on the current situation
If you have any questions, get in touch
We usually know what the common patient experience is, what problems people are having, and how they’re solving those problems.
You won’t find that kind of information on the government websites, so do get in touch with us if you want to talk.