5 Colleges That Provide Gender-Affirming Care for Trans and Nonbinary Students
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- Gender-affirming care is healthcare that supports and affirms all students' gender identities.
- LGBTQ+ students need gender-affirming care as many contemplate dropping out of school.
- One way colleges support students is by offering and covering hormone replacement therapy.
- Learn more about how five colleges support TNB students through gender-affirming care.
Many college students live, work, study, and receive healthcare on campus. Beyond deciding which major to select transgender and nonbinary (TNB) students may be wondering if the housing is gender-inclusive, if they can receive hormone treatments or surgery to support their gender identities, and if student health insurance cover these treatments.
There are several concrete ways colleges and universities can support TNB students pursuing college degrees. And as transgender people's rights to participate in athletics and even receive healthcare remain under attack, now is a good time for institutions to reiterate the importance of gender-affirming care for TNB college students.
What Is Gender-Affirming Care?
Gender-affirming care (GAC) refers to resources and treatments that help transgender and nonbinary students feel more aligned with their gender identity, particularly when their gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. GAC can also refer to any healthcare someone receives, whether they are cisgender or transgender, that affirms their gender, even when the care does not directly relate to gender.
Gender-affirming care may include physical healthcare services for students who want to receive hormone replacement therapy (HRT), reconstructive surgeries, or voice modification services. A crucial part of making gender-affirming care accessible to TNB students is ensuring that student health insurance covers these services.
Additional GAC offerings include legal resources for students who wish to change their legal or preferred names and personal pronouns. This may include resources for legal name changes or procedural resources for changing one's name and pronouns within the university system. Finally, given the stress many LGBTQ+ students experience in college, mental health services from trans-affirming professionals are needed to support students living with gender dysphoria, stress, and depression.
Why Is Gender-Affirming Care Important?
Almost one-third of LGBTQIA+ students have thought about dropping out of college or even taking their own lives due to mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, social isolation, and loneliness. With close to 2% of college students identifying as transgender, nonbinary, or questioning, accessible gender-affirming care on college campuses is critical.
Professionals agree that gender-affirming care and affirming social interventions can actually save the lives of TNB individuals. For instance, in a 2018 survey of over 130 TNB youth who received chest reconstruction surgeries, most reported less gender dysphoria post-surgery, and only one reported any regret.
Without access to GAC, trans and nonbinary students are forced to navigate campus systems and resources that may actually cause more harm than good.
Five Colleges That Offer Gender-Affirming Care for Students
So, how can TNB students find colleges or universities that offer GAC? Start by looking for colleges that support students in accessing hormone treatments and gender-affirming surgeries to assist them in their gender identity journey.
Organizations like Campus Pride put together annual lists of the best colleges and universities for LGBTQ+ students. Below are a few examples of how colleges and universities support TNB students.
University of Utah
Although located in a conservative state, the University of Utah offers several gender-affirming resources for its student body. The university, which has a dedicated LGBT Resource Center, allows students to change their names within the school's systems without requiring legal documentation.
The University of Utah also boasts an LGBTQ+ inclusive housing option called Alliance House. Students who wish to undergo medical procedures to correct their sex assigned at birth can seek support from the Transgender Health Program, which helps students find transgender health doctors, fertility services, and gender-affirming surgery.
The University of Delaware
Located in Newark, the University of Delaware scored high on Campus Pride's Campus Pride Index. GAC services and resources at the university include living-learning communities that allow students to choose gender-inclusive housing. What's more, their student health insurance covers counseling services and hormone replacement therapy treatments.
The university supports students at the beginning and end of their college careers by hosting annual lavender celebrations. Their Lavender Welcome Celebration allows incoming and returning LGBTQ+ students to build relationships and learn about campus organizations like the Pride Caucus. They also host an annual lavender graduation celebration for LGBTQ+ students who earned their degrees.
University of Wisconsin, Madison
The University of Wisconsin, Madison, provides detailed information for TNB students on their Trans Health page. They list services provided, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and provide names of healthcare providers that will administer HRT. They also provide students with a list of sharps disposal locations throughout Madison.
For support in the classroom, the university also provides TNB students with a template to use when asking their professors to use their pronouns in class. The template includes a link to a slideshow explaining why using a student's pronouns is important.
Ithaca College in New York state provides many of the same resources named above, including resources for helping students change their preferred or legal name and health insurance that covers hormone treatments and mental health care.
The college is also developing an app called "Pee in Peace," which helps students find all-gender restrooms on campus and in the surrounding city. Ithaca also offers the Voice and Communication Modification Program. This program is offered to students of all gender identities to help them develop their voices and articulation to improve their "voice-related quality of life."
University of Colorado Boulder
The University of Colorado Boulder helps make the campus a welcoming and inclusive place for trans students, going as far as to help them find trans-friendly employers on campus. Employers who participate in the university's Safe Zone Training can indicate they are Safe Zone Ally Members, signaling to trans students that they support students of all genders and sexualities.
Another high point for students is nearby in Aurora, Colorado, which is home to the Transgender Center of the Rockies, an organization that offers medication-assisted treatments for trans adults, preventative medications like PrEP, and assistance in obtaining WPATH letters (letters sometimes required by healthcare providers before they'll approve hormone therapy).
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