February 8, 2013
Brown University has joined the list of a handful of other universities to offer health insurance coverage for certain sex reassignment surgeries.
The Brown Daily Herald reported that beginning in August the university’s Student Health Insurance Plan will cover the costs of 14 different sex reassignment surgery procedures. Typically, the total cost of sex reassignment surgeries, including hormone therapy and other services, can cost up to $50,000. This change in health coverage has been one that students have advocated for several years. Many members of the LGBT student body pushed for it, particularly the student group Gender Action, a subgroup of the Queer Alliance.
“We identified this as an important benefit for students to have access to,” said Jeanne Hebert, director of insurance and purchasing services at Brown University. Hebert added that the change agrees with “Brown’s efforts to support all students.”
Offering such coverage is just part of a broader effort across the university to improve policies affecting transgender students. Kelly Garrett, LGBTQ Center coordinator, told The Brown Daily Herald that the university will also provide Health Services and Psychological Services training, create and distribute lists of gender-neutral campus bathrooms and advocate for gender-neutral housing options.
“I think we have a great reputation as a liberal school that attracts a lot of different students,” said Maddy Jennewein, a member of Gender Action, in The Brown Daily Herald. “I’m glad our student policies are now up to par with the student body.”
According to The Brown Daily Herald, Brown is one of the few schools in the country to cover such procedures under student health insurance plans. The other institutions include Cornell University, Harvard University, Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania.
The change is significant as having the option may play a big role in transgender students’ decisions on what college to apply to and eventually enroll in.
As The New York Times reported, that was the case for Richard Parsons, a student who was raised female but realized he was transgender in high school. Parsons now attends the University of Pennsylvania and told The New York Times that Penn’s gender-neutral housing and medical program, which covers sex reassignment surgery, influenced his decision to go there.
Alumni reactions to the health coverage change, however, have been mixed, noted AOL on. Some have expressed disapproval, while others have praised the school for being progressive.
Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin
“Generation LGBTQIA,” nytimes.com, January 9, 2013, Michael Schulman
“Ivy League School To Cover Sex Change Surgery,” on.aol.com, February 7, 2013
“Student health plan to cover sex reassignment,” browndailyherald.com, February 6, 2013