A B.C. woman has been arrested for carrying out an arson attack on the Montreal surgical clinic that is the only place in Canada providing the most complex forms of gender reassignment surgery.
Jayne Ellen Heideck, 42, was detained Monday by RCMP officers in Kelowna, B.C., and is being returned to Montreal.
She will face charges stemming from a fire in early May at the Centre métropolitain de chirurgie in Montreal.
The blaze started when an assailant burst through a backdoor opened by a staff member and ran up into a surgical suite with an incendiary device. Sprinklers dowsed the flames before firefighters arrived, but the blaze still caused $700,000 in damage.
Police considered the possibility the attack was a hate crime, because of the clinic’s specialty in gender reassignment surgery (or gender affirming surgery, as is the preferred term) as well as other plastic and bariatric procedures. While a trans person might be able to get cosmetic or upper body surgeries elsewhere in Canada, the private Montreal clinic is the only one in the country that performs the most complicated genital surgeries.
After Heideck’s arrest, police confirmed they did not consider it a hate crime, spokesman Const. Manuel Couture told the Montreal Gazette.
Attempts to contact Heideck or her lawyer, if she has retained one, were unsuccessful.
Yet, there has been much speculation in the media she was a former patient whose surgery was “botched” at the clinic.
“Jayne expressed strong dissatisfaction with having had her surgery a few months after having had her surgery; however, I am not aware of any negative surgical outcomes,” said Morgane Oger, chair of the Trans Alliance Society in Vancouver, who has known the woman for years.
“Jayne was extremely happy to have had the surgery when I picked her up from the airport afterwards,” Oger said, adding that was a feeling that continued for “some time afterward.”
She was a happy, easy-going person with all the same struggles that trans persons have.
Heideck has family in Nanaimo, B.C., Oger said, adding she last spoke with her days before her arrest.
In the years before and immediately after the procedure, Oger said Heideck was a “nice, well-meaning person” and a dedicated cyclist who made her living fixing bikes in Vancouver.
“She was a happy, easy-going person with all the same struggles that trans persons have.”
But Facebook posts from Heideck’s account and by self-professed friends suggest she started to spiral into mental illness.
It has not been proved that Heideck committed the violent act, but Oger said, if she did, “Even when somebody has every good excuse, there is not justification for the violence this could have been.”
No one was injured in the fire but there were staff and patients in the building.
Repairs are still underway at the clinic, which is meeting patients one by one to discuss whether procedures need to be rescheduled, relocated or go on as normal.