In January 2014, the Baltimore Sun reported that the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), one of the nation’s top public universities, might add gender-confirmation surgery to its student health insurance offerings, making it the fifty-first university to offer the coverage nationwide.
Mykell Hatcher-McLarin, a senior at UMCP and man of trans experience, discusses what the university's decision to cover gender confirmation surgery would mean to him and other trans students.
I've been transitioning for about six years, on testosterone for one year and seven months, and attempting to get chest reconstruction surgery for about a year. For those of us without health insurance to cover the procedure, we must save for a very expensive procedure with little to no support from an institution designed to care for the health concerns and needs of their patients.
Thankfully, due to much support from my peers and my part time job, I was able to raise the majority of the funds I need. However, I know not all people of transgender experience have this privilege and support.
University of Maryland's decision to incorporate trans-related surgeries into their coverage of transitional care is so important for transgender students who wish to get gender affirmation surgery. There are many transgender students who are already trying to balance gender dysphoria, acceptance from family, discrimination in public and private sectors, other potential legal changes and other forms of negative stigma.
Health insurance companies cannot solve all of these issues simply by covering transition-related care. However, they can relieve much of the tension students feel when seeking health care.
These surgeries are not cosmetic but rather medical in nature.
For all trans people who, like me, wish for and require surgery in order for their physical self to match their inner vision and perception of themselves, I'm elated that we have support from University of Maryland and are one step closer to achieving the realness we desire.