The Tang Center and SHIP are finally making moves to be more trans-friendly, and AHCA is stalling in the senate. For anybody that cares about our healthcare system, things are looking up.
Beginning August 1, SHIP will begin covering a handful of gender confirming treatments and surgeries for UC Berkeley students. Laser hair removal and fertility preservation will be added to the growing list of treatments, which already includes male-to-female top surgery, tracheal shaves and electrolysis.
UC Berkeley continues to lead in inclusive healthcare coverage, particularly for those students whom the healthcare system has routinely and historically marginalized.
Still, a great deal more of gender confirmation services can and must be added to SHIP’s offerings, and affordability must become more of a priority to ensure trans students have access to necessary treatment.
The reason for this school’s progressive healthcare system is, of course, linked to student support. It is often forgotten how ungainly and elephantine large structures such as UC Berkeley’s healthcare system can be when attempting to enact policy changes. SHIP, recognizing this difficulty, turns to the ASUC and the Student Health Insurance Advisory Committee and its transgender care team to provide feedback on its health insurance policies and offerings. Listening to students has its benefits.
In crafting policies that extend beyond the healthcare system, looking to students for guidance must become more regular in the campus at large. Trans students are vocal about the need for trans-inclusivity training. Senator-elect Juniperangelica Cordova, in praising the inclusion of new services, has also been vocal about the need for proper training of physicians in being trans-friendly during doctor-patient visits.
Tang Center physicians and staff must indeed be trained to be more trans-inclusive when providing any and all healthcare services for trans students. But it goes beyond that. Administrators, faculty and staff across UC Berkeley’s campus must be more properly trained in trans-inclusionary behavior when interacting with students — not just in the medical field.
Certainly, students should not have to be the ones to bring up their pronouns to professors and graduate student instructors. The power dynamics involved in such conversations, between students and their academic superiors, between trans and cis people, are far too tenuous for the burden to be placed on students. More educators must be taught in a formal way to ask students for their pronouns and to respect their students pronouns from the jump. Pronoun inclusivity training must be emphasized more.
Of course, all of the institutions of higher education in the United States are behind on this issue. In that contest, UC Berkeley could be praised for being considerably less behind. Still, that margin is not that vast, and we can do better.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.