This week Brown University announced that it will join the list of institutions for higher education expanding student health care services by providing sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) to transgender students.
According to the Brown Daily Herald, the Brown Student Health Insurance Plan will cover 14 different sexual reassignment surgery procedures starting in August, Director of Insurance and Purchasing Services Jeanne Hebert confirmed. The move puts Brown among of schools such as Cornell, Harvard, Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania that cover at least some sex reassignment surgeries.
“’We identified this as an important benefit for students to have access to,’ Hebert wrote, adding that the change was in line with “Brown’s efforts to support all students.” The coverage will be funded through renewal rates paid for next year’s student healthcare coverage, she wrote. In general, the total package of sexual reassignment surgeries, hormone therapy and other services can cost up to $50,000.
“Kelly Garrett, LGBTQ Center coordinator, said she has strongly advocated this change for the past several years. A milestone in the movement to add coverage for these surgeries was the inclusion of hormone treatment in the current school year’s coverage plan, Garrett added. The sexual reassignment procedures that will be covered are “very standard and very comprehensive,” she said.
“In the past, transgender students did not have access to sex reassignment surgeries at Brown and often were barred from treatment due to high costs, Garrett said. “I know people where it’s taken them 10 years because they needed to save money,” she said. The LGBTQ Center has no statistics on how many transgender students are at Brown, and it is difficult to get accurate data due to self-reporting and the nature of some students’ gender identity changes during their time in college, she said.
“Though doctors have declared these surgeries medically necessary, insurance companies typically deem them cosmetic and exclude them from coverage across the United States, Garrett said. Meanwhile, without access to hormones and surgery, transgender people may face discrimination because others may not accept their gender identity and presentation, she said.