Beginning next academic year, Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee can change its student insurance policy to cover transgender-related surgeries. This decision, say school officials, can make the campus environment more inclusive for students who have been dealing with their time in the university without the care they\’ve needed.
USA Today’s Adam Tamburin reports that the move was a part of an annual review of the school’s health care plan for students. Vice Provost for Learning and Residential Affairs Cynthia Cyrus said:
\”It was relatively non-controversial on our side,\” Cyrus said. \”It was maybe a two-paragraph conversation, not deeply debated by any means.
The health plan has covered hormone therapy for transgender students for several years, so receiving add coverage for reconstructive surgeries for transgender people in the student body was an easy decision. Nonprofit advocacy group Campus Pride reports that 71 universities nationwide offer this insurance policy plan.
Genny Beemyn, the Coordinator of the Trans Policy Clearinghouse for Campus Pride and Director of the Stonewall Center in the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, says the insurance coverage changes normally come after students request the option, that is how the process began at Vanderbilt.
Rj Robles, a graduate student at Vanderbilt Divinity School, identifies as transgender and was a patient of Dr. Louise Hanson, the director from the university’s student health center, and?could not afford to have surgery. Robles does not identify as a woman or a man and uses the pronouns they, them, and?their. They are considering breast augmentation.
Robles came to Vanderbilt after attending the University of Illinois, Chicago where surgeries for transgender students were covered. Since 2014, they\’d to effectively take their transition to the side.
Sarah Friedman, writing for that Vanderbilt Hustler, quotes student organizer and senior Shawn Reilly:
\”I really think it shows that Vanderbilt is making attempts to really accommodate and accept trans people in and around the community, I think it\’s only in reaction to activists. We\’re not getting anything coming straight top-down. This is actually a response to a few trans people who are pushing for this, which is how most change happens on our campus.\”
In the past few years, the university has offered gender-neutral housing and bathroom choices and it has added gender-neutral pronouns towards the student handbook. But you may still find changes to make, says Reilly. Students should be allowed to change their names in the school database, that is challenging for trans students who wish to change their names to?one that is appropriate for their preferred gender. Also, pronouns are not included on professors’ rosters.
But Tennessee Rep. Diane Black (R) calls the university’s change a “stunt” and the “political agenda of liberal university administrators.” She added the school had alienated many donors, parents, and students, according to Cortney O’Brien of Townhall.
Black asserted roughly 12 states have?refused to consider and implement the Obama administration’s”bathroom law.” It\’s apparent that these same 12 states?will also balk at spending money on sex change surgeries. Black added that in spite of the many advanced degrees which exist among the senior administration of the school, in her view there?seems to be an undeniable dearth of common sense.