Tracy Garza, Communications Associate
While it’s seldom surprising for certain conservative outlets to be vitriolic over even the smallest victories that bring us closer to full equality in America, the recent uproar over Brown University offering trans-inclusive health care for its students seems fairly baffling.
Earlier this week, Brown University announced that it would start covering transition-related health care for students starting this Fall.
That this should have caused a minor uproar is all the more surprising considering that other Ivy League universities like Cornell and Harvard, as well as top West Coast colleges like Stanford, already offer similar health coverage for transgender students.
The conservative critics who have poured scorn over Brown’s decision are either being dishonest about the realities of medical treatment for trans people, or they truly don’t grasp the most basic facts behind the issue of trans health care.
Transition-related health care isn’t cosmetic in nature, and has been deemed medically necessary care by the American Medical Association. Transition related treatment is unique for each patient, and the individual decisions for each transition should be determined between a patient and their doctor.
It should also go without saying by this point that the lack of a supportive environment and access to appropriate health care contribute to disproportionately high levels of depression and suicide among transgender youth. The suicide rate for trans youth is as high as 41%, compared to 1.6% for the general population, according to a survey by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality.
So, no, it’s not like Brown students are suddenly going to be undergoing gender-reassignment procedures on a whim or a dare – such procedures will constitute medical treatment that is absolutely necessary for a relatively minute percentage of the population.
Rather than poking fun at Brown’s decision, or the students who might be better off for being covered for the medical treatment they may require, the question should be why more universities aren’t already covering this kind of treatment.
Gender reassignment procedures, and other trans-specific health care, can be prohibitively expensive even for folks on a relatively good income, given that many insurance companies don’t cover them.
Making sure that all folks have adequate access to the health care they require to be in good health and enjoy life to the fullest isn’t something anyone should criticize; what deserves a lot of criticism is any kind of health or insurance policy that deliberately excludes one of the smallest and most vulnerable minorities in America today.