Vanderbilt University officials announced student insurance packages will cover transgender-related surgeries starting next school year, according to reports Wednesday.
The measure was proposed by the director of Vanderbilt’s student health center, Dr. Louise Hanson, during an annual committee review of student healthcare. The proposal was prompted by student comments about transgender surgery access.
“It came out of feeling limited in our ability to take full and complete care of our transgender students,” Hanson said. “It really came out of our frustration.”
Hanson told The Tennessean in an interview that after talking to students, she learned many could not afford the transgender surgeries, while others could.
“A line was drawn in the sand,” Hanson said. “The haves and the have-nots.”
When the proposal was brought to the committee for review, it faced little to no debate.
“It was relatively non-controversial on our side. It was maybe a two-paragraph conversation, not deeply debated in any way,” Cynthia Cyrus, vice provost for learning and residential affairs at Vanderbilt, said.
The director of the Program for LGBTI Health at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Dr. Jesse Ehrenfeld, claims few people will seek the treatment, so the benefits will not add significant costs to the healthcare plans.
Vanderbilt is not the first school to offer coverage for transgender surgeries through student healthcare. Harvard and Yale offer some coverage for transgender surgeries and University of Illinois at Chicago covers transgender-related surgeries in the healthcare it offer students.
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