Until recently, transgender students were treated as second class citizens in regards to health care services in colleges.
Although transgender student recognition started out slow, with minimal accommodations such as recognizing their name change or allowing them to use the bathroom of their choosing, progress has been made and is quickly continuing to improve.
Transgender people pursue their transitions on a spectrum of levels. Not all transgender people decide to undergo sex-reassignment surgeries. Some will only change their names or prefer certain gender specific (or gender-queer) pro-nouns. Others may undergo hormone therapy, but will choose not to go through with surgery. Transitioning is different for everyone, and it is up to the individual to decide their plan of action.
Thankfully, many college health care services are listening to the requests and needs of their transgender students and advocates and have made significant changes and accommodations.
Dr. Gabriel Garcia, Stanford professor and faculty adviser to the school’s LGBT Medical Education Research Group, commented to the LGBT section of the Stanford School of Medicine Scope Blog on the importance of quality LGBT health services.
“Quality patient-provider relationships are the foundation for good health outcomes,” Dr. Garcia said. “LGBT people, as all others, need health care providers they can trust and with whom they can develop genuine, respectful and mutually beneficial relationships.”
Many of The United States Ivy Leagues and 35 other prestigious colleges and universities, are making huge leaps forward in providing health insurance plans which offer coverage for gender reassignment surgery.
25 other colleges do not provide coverage for surgery, but do have insurance plans with hormone therapy coverage. As of just six years ago, no colleges were providing this service, reports The New York Times.
Leading in top notch health care and medical service, Stanford University provides impressive coverage and support for their transgender students, beginning coverage of sex-reassignment surgery in 2010.
Director of the student health center and the associate vice provost for student affairs at Stanford University, Dr. Ira Friedman, commented to The New York Times that, “Students notice whether the issues that they care about, that make them feel like it’s a more comfortable and welcoming place, are being discussed and addressed.” Ahead of the game, Stanford started covering sex-reassignment surgery three years ago, in 2010.
Not every transgender person undergoes sex-reassignment surgery, however the option is out there. Stanford has a program called CAPS which provides support and guidance for their transitioning students at any stage.
A transgender student can request a CAPS counselor to be their guiding force through their transition. The counselor is able to be a legal advocate within the university’s legal system, provide letters of recommendations, and provide emotional support.