Number wanting gender reassignment in Northern Ireland soars by nearly 500%
New figures have shown almost a 500% increase in the number of people seeking gender reassignment over the past five years.
Information released to the BBC shows in 2012/13 there were 10 requests for gender reassignment surgery funding, compared to 47 for the same period across 2017/18.
Gender reassignment surgery involves changing the function and appearance of person's sexual characteristics to the those of the opposite sex.
It is currently not possible to undergo the procedure in Northern Ireland, with participants travelling to other parts of the United Kingdom.
A 13-week consultation on gender reassignment in Northern Ireland had been due to take place starting in June of this year, but is yet to get underway due to the ongoing stalemate at Stormont.
The delay in this consultation was raised last week during a hearing of Westminster's Northern Ireland Affairs Committee last week.
Northern Ireland has been without a government since the collapse of the power-sharing Executive in January 2017, following then Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness' resignation over the botched RHI renewable energy scheme.
In Northern Ireland a person can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate to legally change their gender if they are aged 18 or over.
Funding requests for gender reassignment in Northern Ireland go through the Health and Social Care Board, which approves applications for other parts of the United Kingdom.
Belfast Telegraph Digital