CSU will become the 37th college in the nation to add gender reassignment surgery to the student health insurance plan as of August 2013.
According to Anne Hudgens, director of the CSU Health Network, the addition of gender reassignment is called a plan enhancement, and it will have no additional monetary effect on the plan holders.
“Every year, we renegotiate the insurance plan and they are always interested in what we can do to meet the needs of the institution,” Hudgens said. “As part of the renewal process we asked for (and) gave us $10,000 worth of coverage for gender reassignment surgery at no additional cost to any policy-holder.”
This plan is a win-win situation for everyone because it includes the transgender students and it isn’t any additional cost for the policy-holder, according to Hudgens.
She explained last year’s insurance plan was attentive to gender inclusivity, but didn’t include gender reassignment surgery.
“Hormone therapy is part of the overall pharmacy benefit now,” Hudgens said.
Hudgens added that the decision to include the enhancement to the insurance plan was primarily for the well-being of the entire campus. For her personally, however, the decision to request the enhancement was a no-brainer.
“I deeply believe that health care coverage should work for all persons,” Hudgens said. “It was an inquiry that was met with a positive response.”
The number of schools that have made changes to their policies to be more gender inclusive increased drastically in the last few years, according to the Transgender Law & Policy Institute.
Across the nation, there are 36 schools that cover hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery other than CSU as of August 2013. That includes four of the eight Ivy League schools, as well as CU–Boulder and the University of Washington.
According to Foula Dimopoulos, director of the CSU Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Resource Center, it is an exciting time for the GLBTQ community.
“I think for transgender people specifically and the folks that care about them and support them, this says that they are welcome here,” Dimopoulos said.
Dimopoulos explained that the GLBT Resource Center didn’t have any pull in the addition of gender reassignment surgery and that this is a positive move for the transgender students.
“No, we didn’t have anything to do with the insurance piece and I think that it was significant that it was under the leadership of the health network,” Dimopoulos said. “I think anytime people not only gain access to healthcare, but also have the opportunity to control their health care is a step in the right direction.”
According to Dimopoulos, this was an option six years ago, but with this step comes more education, which she believes is something that CSU has done well on thus far.
“I think there are different pockets of our campus that have been educating people about gender identity and expression for many years,” Dimopoulos said. “I think this change in our insurance policy is one more way that we uphold our nondiscrimination policy.”
Dimopoulos explained that this is an important event at CSU –– not just for the students, but by way of upholding the university’s land grant mission.
“This means that CSU mirrors that land grant legacy in 2013 and maybe access looks different but it is access, all the same,” Dimopoulos said. “This really affects our students in profound ways.”
Diversity Beat Reporter Alex Steinmetz can be reached at email@example.com.