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Columbia Adds Transgender Coverage to Healthcare Plan

those things are always so cold

Reading comprehension test

…last year?

While researching Columbia’s healthcare plan for a piece on transgender CU students to be published in the Orientation issue of The Blue and WhiteBwog discovered that contrary to reporting by The New York Times (with information gathered from the Transgender Law and Policy Institute), Columbia’s student health insurance plan does provide coverage for transition related expenses. This change was made last year and announced in a routine “benefit changes” file from the Aetna Student Health website. Innocuously listed under controversial upgrades such as “Allergy testing” and “Wisdom teeth extraction,” coverage for sexual reassignment surgery is now included for all students enrolled in the CU plan (the deadline to enroll for the 2013-14 school year is September 30th).

After a request, Columbia sent us this statement:

The Columbia Health Student Health Insurance Advisory Committee evaluates the student insurance plan each academic year and makes recommendations for changes that reflect current trends in healthcare, while providing an affordable, comprehensive plan to students. In 2012, the committee recommended to expand benefits for transgender students who enroll in the Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan. These benefit changes were communicated to students in a variety of ways, such as online and in print materials.

Update:  From Mary Joan L. Murphy, Executive Director of Barnard’s Student Health and Wellness Programs:

“Barnard’s student health plan does not cover any hormonal or surgical treatment for transgender [students], but to our knowledge, we have not had any student covered by the plan request these services.”

Update: Additionally, Barnard Health reports that Barnard students are not allowed to use the Columbia health plan for any medical reason or procedure.

Cold looking stethoscope via Shutterstock

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  • C says:

    @C aaaa this is such exciting news! even though it’s not really new… thanks columbia

  • HS says:

    @HS Woot! Great to hear

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Columbia has one if the best health insurance coverages

  • Philosophy major says:

    @Philosophy major What if a girl at Barnard changes sex and becomes a guy?

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Then he continues to attend Barnard as a man? Not so mysterious.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous actually, it is pretty mysterious. see the several NYT stories about just this. Barnard is a “women’s college,” and sometimes it sticks to a pretty conservative definition of “woman”

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous Barnard (and many other women’s colleges) only accept applications from people who legally identify as female. So yes, if you’re MtF, you need to be at a pretty advanced stage of the transition process in order to be considered for acceptance at a women’s college (or farther along than most people who transition are at age 17-18, in any case). If you’re FtM, as long as you’re legally still female when accepted, Barnard isn’t going to track you down later on and make sure you still identify as a woman.

          I’m not saying that Barnard is great about trans inclusion issues like housing, etc. I’m just annoyed at this attitude where people are all ~lolol what would happen if there were a trans dude at Barnard?!?!~ There would be a trans dude at Barnard, that’s what.


          1. lolwat says:

            @lolwat Gurl, calm down. It was just a question.

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous I remember hearing this happened five or six years ago and the individuals (two transitioned at similar times) were more or less kicked out. It is a women’s college, after all.

    3. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous I’ve heard from student services that the policy is “accept women, graduate students.” This means that if a student were to start identifying as male during their time at Barnard, they would not be asked to leave or kicked out in any formal way. That said, I don’t think this policy is advertised, and there’s certainly a lot that is problematic about how Barnard handles trans issues. I’ve heard about (but am no means an expert on) a situation a few years ago where a trans man did decide he had to leave Barnard, but I don’t think he was kicked out – rather, he encountered other students with seriously problematic attitudes and the college was not willing to make the accommodations that he felt were necessary to allow him to have a safe environment and continue his studies. This is still problematic, but not exactly the same thing as expulsion. Things may also have changed since then. I know there is more activism happening around trans issues at Barnard now, and hopefully it will lead to more inclusive policies and more awareness of why they are necessary.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous @Anonymous:

        Just to clarify after reading back over my comment: I’m not saying or implying that Barnard did the right thing AT ALL by not offering complete assistance and compassion to that student, just that to my knowledge there is not a policy of kicking out trans men.

  • Ambivalent cisgender says:

    @Ambivalent cisgender Meh…as long as we have it, I might as well use it. Boobs ahoy!

  • BC 14 says:

    @BC 14 Barnard, step up your game!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Most womens colleges severely discriminate against anything male. Most womens college will not accept transgender applicants. I don’t know about Barnard, but Smith and Wellsley have both kicked out male to female and female to male students.

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