February 14, 2013 — At least three dozen U.S. universities and colleges now offer student health insurance plans that cover gender affirmation surgery, signaling a growing shift among education institutions nationwide toward providing accommodations for transgender students, the New York Times reports.
The coverage benefits are in line with recommendations by the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association for individuals with gender identity disorder. Several major health insurers have adopted the position that gender affirmation surgery and other treatments can be considered medically necessary. The Internal Revenue Service considers the expenses tax-deductible, the Times reports.
According to the Times, no schools offered such coverage six years ago. However, more of them are recognizing that their health plans send a signal to their student populations about their acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and their rights.
Ira Friedman -- associate vice provost for student affairs at Stanford University and director of its student health center -- said, "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." Stanford began covering gender affirmation surgery in 2010.
Last week, Brown University became the 36th college to provide coverage for the surgery, which often follows hormone treatments and psychological counseling, according to the Transgender Law and Policy Institute. Although 25 other colleges do not cover such surgery, their student health plans provide coverage for hormone therapy. In addition, 20 universities offer coverage for certain or all sex-reassignment procedures for employees (Pérez-Peña, New York Times, 2/12).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership