Wednesday, February 13, 2013

College Health Plans Respond as Transgender Students Gain Visibility

I love encouraging news
Over the last decade, as activists started pushing colleges to accommodate transgender students, they first raised only basic issues, like recognizing a name change or deciding who could use which bathrooms. But the front lines have shifted fast, particularly at the nation’s elite colleges, and a growing number are now offering students health insurance plans with coverage for gender reassignment surgery.
The idea still seems radical to plenty of people; last year, when Sandra Fluke, a law student, became famous for speaking in favor of an insurance mandate for contraceptive coverage, conservatives painted her as part of a fringe element because she also supported sex-change coverage...Other medical groups, like the American Psychiatric Association, have taken the same position. Several major insurers have taken the stance that the treatment, including surgery, can be considered medically necessary. The Internal Revenue Service considers the expenses tax-deductible.

The issue directly affects only a tiny number of students; no one knows how many. But universities recognize that their insurance plan sends a signal to the much larger number of students for whom the rights of transgender people have taken a place alongside gay rights as a cause that matters.

“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,” said Ira Friedman, a doctor who is associate vice provost for student affairs at Stanford and director of the student health center there. Stanford began covering sex-change surgery in 2010.

No comments: