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UC Berkeley Adds New Healthcare Benefits for Transgender Students



The UC Berkeley health system will soon add several health care benefits designed specifically to assist transgender students, according to a report from the Daily Californian.

The UC Berkeley student health plan will add several services for transgender students, including “laser hair removal” and “fertility preservation.” These services will be added to a list of services that are already available to transgender students, such as “gender confirmation surgery,” “breast augmentation (MTF top surgery),” “female to male top surgery” and “hormone therapy.”

According to the report, these services are being added to help transgender students feel more comfortable in affirming their identity. What was once called “gender reassignment” surgery is now called “gender confirmation” surgery. All students covered by the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) will be eligible for the new treatments.

“Trans and gender nonconforming people, unfortunately, face not only ignorance but also sometimes stigma on the part of the clinical providers who need to care for them, in part because most clinicians have not been trained in this aspect of healthcare,” University Health Services SHIP manager Bahar Navab Navab said in an email to the Daily Californian.

“Our Student Health Insurance Advisory Committee (SHIAC) had discussed adding these benefits for transgender patients two years ago,” Kim LaPean, communications manager at UC Berkeley’s University Health Services Tang Center, which specifically assists LGBTQ students. “When we brought the benefit additions back up for discussion with SHIAC this past year, the student representatives expressed their support and requested to expand the benefits to anyone with medical necessity as well (e.g. a patient with ovarian cancer may who may also want fertility preservation).”

“There are an infinite number of ways that someone can identify in regard to gender,” Laura Alie, chair of the Transgender Care Team at the UHS Tang Center, told the Berkeley News. “It’s our goal to make sure trans or gender-nonconforming students feel completely at home in the Tang Center, no matter what department they go to.”

“It’s a matter of making sure that everyone who works at Tang is up-to-date in terms of using our names and our pronouns,” ASUC Senator-elect Juniperangelica Cordov said, who is transgender herself. “I’m excited to see new procedures and new coverage being added and I’m looking forward to working with Tang this year in making sure trans folks are healthy.”

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