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Gender Confirmation Surgery Now Covered By UIC Student Insurance

By Tony Peregrin in News on May 31, 2013 6:40PM


Looking for gender reassignment surgery? University of Illinois will now offer coverage for the procedure in its student insurance plan.

A UIC grad student proposed adding the surgery to the health insurance plan, and the UIC student fee advisory committee supported the policy change and presented the issue to university’s board of trustees. According to the Chicago Tribune, trustees debated the policy change yesterday morning for about 15 minutes and then voted 6-2 to add the benefit.

Up until six years ago, no college or university offered students health insurance plans with coverage for gender reassignment surgery. As of this month, nearly 40 schools cover the procedure, including many of the Ivies and other top American universities: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Cornell, Penn, Emory, MIT, and Northwestern University—which added the benefit about a year ago.

Gender reassignment surgery (or more perhaps more accurately “gender confirmation surgery”— at least according to a plastic surgeon based in Chicago) is not only gaining acceptance with college administrators but with students as well, including fraternities. Earlier this year, Donnie Collins a sophomore at Emerson College—a private coeducational university located in Boston—was in need of a female-to-male procedure to remove his breasts, but the school’s insurance policy did not cover the cost of the $8,000 operation. Collins’ fraternity Phi Alpha Tau reached out to the community and raised more than $12,000 for the procedure.

Student insurance costs at UIC are expected to increase about 15 percent this fall to $922 a year—$9 of which is earmarked for the procedure.

Campus Pride, a leading national education organization for LGBT and ally students and campus groups, recently released its first “Top 10 Trans-Friendly Colleges and Universities” list. The rankings took into consideration an institution’s demonstrated commitment to the Trans community, including gender inclusive bathrooms, the ability to change gender on campus records and documents, and student health coverage for hormones and surgeries for transitioning students. UIC didn’t make the cut, at least not yet, but transgender advocates say the university’s decision to cover these surgeries is an important move toward gender inclusivity. (And, we think, just the right thing to do, dang it, especially at an institution of higher learning, which are known for promoting self-discovery.)