The story of Lois Cardinal
I heard Lois’s story a couple of months ago and wanted to get it out there, but didn’t know how to approach it. It seemed indecent to use it, even in the greater cause of drawing attention to an appalling situation in hyper-woke Canada, where an assisted dying program (MAID) awaits those, like Lois, who regret undergoing surgery that is experimental, irreversible, and ideological. Thankfully, Lois’s friend Neil Dorin has written this plea for his friend which gives the full story. My thanks to him.
As someone who cares deeply about the issues related to sex and gender, I’m writing this with the express goal to persuade others like me to take up this call for help.
My friend, Lois Cardinal, was born male and transitioned 14 years ago at the age of 19 to present as female. Lois was pressured by the mental healthcare providers at a gender clinic in Edmonton, Alberta, to take advantage of a provincial government grant program for those seeking sex-reassignment surgery, as the program was about to end. Though Lois’ initial application was denied, the healthcare providers pressured Lois that it may be “now or never” to have access to the surgery and have the costs covered by the government. As soon as the anesthetic wore off, Lois regretted going through with the surgery.
Now, nearly a decade and a half after the surgery, and as a direct result of it, Lois has applied for MAiD in Canada (Medical Assistance in Dying). The current criteria for eligibility includes having a grievous and irremediable medical condition. To be considered as having a grievous and irremediable medical condition, the applicant also has to meet the following criteria:
have a serious illness, disease or disability (excluding a mental illness until March 17, 2024)
be in an advanced state of decline that cannot be reversed
experience unbearable physical or mental suffering from your illness, disease, disability or state of decline that cannot be relieved under conditions that you consider acceptable
You do not need to have a fatal or terminal condition to be eligible for medical assistance in dying.
The third bullet point is the critical one, and it is the focus of my efforts and this message. As anyone familiar with the surgery to create a “neo-vagina” will know, these procedures have a high rate of complication and the nature of even the most ideal result requires ongoing personal maintenance and health care.
As part of the application process for MAiD, Lois has been referred to a specialist in Calgary, a 5.5-hour drive or short flight, who deals with post-transition care and is hopefully able to acknowledge the material realities of the medical issues instead of pretending that Lois has changed sex.
In addition, the clinic in Montreal that performed the actual surgery 14 years ago has offered Lois an appointment to follow up on the current issues.
You see, Lois is a First Nations person and lives on a reserve 1.5-hour drive from the nearest major metropolitan area, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The practical realities of living on a reserve are that local medical resources are limited and the condition of the roads can make even routine travel to the nearest city arduous. As it currently stands, Lois doesn’t even have regular access to a suitable vehicle to attend medical appointments if such appointments were available reasonably nearby.
So far, efforts to locally access necessary medical care resulting from the surgery have been met with referral to a gynecologist in Edmonton that wanted to redefine Lois’ sexual orientation from homosexual to asexual and a GP who said, “We, as females, experience vaginal atrophy.”
The efforts of this fundraising campaign are focused on removing the financial and practical barriers that limit Lois’ access to the medical care being currently offered.
Now that I’ve laid out the practical situation at hand, I’d like to take a detour to the personal.
I have had the honour of getting to know Lois over the past few months. First, via interactions on Twitter, then via some DMs. Most recently, Lois visited Calgary where I live, and we had the opportunity to meet in person and a deeper friendship immediately ensued.
Lois is the kind of person I find myself inexplicably drawn to. I often feel this way when I encounter someone who strikes me as authentic, disarmingly honest and darkly humorous. Like me, Lois isn’t afraid to ride the edge between funny and dark truth, which is where the best laughs are found. Maybe my experience as a cancer survivor who underwent a radical orchiectomy at 24 to remove a malignant tumour in my left testicle and had to deal with resulting complications from that surgery also made me connect with Lois’ experience. Maybe Lois reminds me of my closeted effeminate gay friends in university who could have ended up in exactly the same situation.
For all that I’ve engaged in this public battle of ideas that I find so damaging, meeting and getting to know Lois has confirmed one thing above all others. Real, imperfect human beings are being damaged by the result of these ideas. My wife, in her wisdom, often asks me, “What are you going to do about it?” Well, I can speak up and make a plea to help someone directly damaged by these ideas.
And this leads me to the elephant in the room. As someone on Twitter understandably asked when we launched the fundraising campaign, “Why would I support helping someone who has expressed an interest in dying? Haven’t they already given up?”
I can’t speak for Lois, but I know I haven’t given up. I may not agree with Lois’ decision to pursue MAiD, but as a human being I cannot seek to deny it. I cannot say with any degree of honesty or confidence that if I were in Lois’ position I wouldn’t seek out the same path. All I can do is do everything in my power to see if there are some other paths that might be more appealing and seek to offer all the love and support I can while there’s time to do so.
And for those who would ask such questions, I would ask in return, “What would you have Lois do?” Should Lois just stay stuck on the reserve, isolated from most of the rest of the world for the duration of the MAiD application process? I would rather Lois have the opportunity and some resources to access what medical care may be available, to tell this story far and wide to all that will listen and to experience the beauty of the world we live in. Lois lives a mere 5 hour drive from the great Rocky Mountains of Alberta and the national parks of Jasper and Banff. People spend their entire lives saving and making travel plans to see some of the most majestic mountain landscapes in the world. I want Lois to have some basic transportation and resources to visit the beautiful natural world in our backyard, whether or not the MAiD process is followed to its ultimate conclusion.
I recently asked Lois if there was anything on the “bucket list.” I was immediately corrected that there was a short “life list” and the top item “I”ve always wanted to fly in a small plane and just enjoy the view.” As someone who has been fortunate to have had that experience myself a few times, this immediately became my personal goal. Separate from the goals of this fundraiser, I want Lois to see the mountains from a small plane. To see the glaciers, the lakes and the river valleys from a bird’s eye view. That might just be a view worth sticking around to see again. That’s something I’m determined to make happen for my friend. Your generosity in donating to this fundraiser - or simply spreading the message - would go a long way to making it easier for Lois to access these sorts of opportunities.
Most importantly, while this is very much about Lois as a person I know and care about personally, I also recognize that this is about an entire group of people who have been touched by this medical scandal. For me, this is also about Sinead, Ritchie, Corinna, Michelle, Chloe, KC, Veera, Grace, Kiera and the scores of unnamed and yet to be named who are left to deal with the aftermath of “gender affirmation” surgery.