Colleges Should Cover Transgender Health Care

Colleges across the country are making changes to be more accepting of LGBT students. Many colleges have gender-neutral housing and non-discrimination policies that protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Providing these services for LGBT people is a great way for colleges to attract LGBT students, staff, and faculty. Now, some colleges are offering coverage for transgender-related care in their health insurance plans.

University of Pennsylvania is the latest school to offer a transgender-inclusive insurance plan for their students. (They are considering a similar plan for staff and faculty.) Others include the University of Michigan and schools in the University of California system.

But even among the schools with transgender-inclusive insurance, there is variation in what exactly is covered. Harvard offers coverage for top surgery but not for bottom surgery, while Cornell and Princeton offer coverage for hormone therapy but not for any sex reassignment surgery.

People don’t choose to be transgender, and transgender medical treatment should not be treated as optional. The denial of transgender-related medical treatment in insurance plans is evidence of prejudice against transgender people and lack of understanding about what it means to be transgender.

Transgender care is a medical necessity, albeit one that many transgender people cannot afford. The American Medical Association agrees, and in 2008 they passed a resolution in support of health insurance coverage including treatment for transgender people.

Schools should have health insurance plans that don’t exclude transgender coverage. Why should transgender people be denied the coverage they need when they pay the same insurance premiums as everyone else?

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