by Heather Clark
Brown University in Providence, a city founded by Roger Williams as a refuge for those who were persecuted for their faith, states that its student health insurance plan will now cover “sexual reassignment surgeries” and 14 types of treatments for students desiring to switch genders. It notes that procedures normally cost up to $50,000 per person, and therefore, can be out of reach for young adults.
“We identified this as an important benefit for students to have access to,” Jeanne Hebert, director of the university’s insurance services, told the student newspaper The Brown Daily Herald.
The university is joining approximately 35 other colleges and universities across the country who also provide some form of insurance coverage for sexual treatments, whether hormone therapy or major surgery. Other schools include Harvard, Stanford, Cornell and Yale.
Reaction to the announcement has been mixed.
Noah Lupica, who underwent a sex change operation as a teenager, told the school newspaper that “the fact that Brown is now offering these surgeries is life-saving.”
“Cisgendered people — ordinarily, most people — don’t even think about how limiting it can be to not feel comfortable in their own skin,” he said, referring to those who have not altered their birth gender.
“God help us. I guess this is what moral collapse looks like,” commented one concerned reader, who remained anonymous. “Then good riddance to your ‘morality,’” replied another identified as KN.
Some students said that their chief concern was that other students would have to pay for the procedures.
“I don’t think the issue here is the procedure itself; it’s that other students are paying for this procedure to happen. Even if the APA deems this a medical necessity, what makes it so immediate and pressing that the entire Brown student body has to subside this during the 4 years we have at college?” wrote one student by the screen name of Yolo. “I think this is really just an issue of where our money is going. Also, like a lot of people, I’m worried some people might come to Brown to abuse this privilege — and on my dime.”
In addition to the new inclusion in the university’s insurance policy, campus groups plan to increase awareness of gender-neutral restrooms on campus and will also advocate for gender-neutral housing. As previously reported, the University of North Carolina announced last year that it had voted to offer co-ed housing to protect transvestite or transsexual students on campus.