Sex-change aids available only to some

Emily Moore, Staff Writer

University of Pittsburgh graduate students who wish to change their sex can now do so and receive benefits help to pay for the transformation.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center doctors provide a sex-change service.

This plan is available only to graduate students because undergraduate students have individual health care plans, according to University of Pittsburgh’s Human Resources Assistant Vice Chancellor John Kozar.

“The individual policy will fall under the federal marketplace guidelines.

“As a result, changes will be made to the policy when it is renewed,” Kozar said.

Few organizations have offered coverage for a sex change, but there has not been any notable change to the coverage option in the past few years.

“Our rates are locked in for the current plan’s year, and projections indicate that, despite always increasing general medical inflation rates, our experience appears favorable looking ahead to a fiscal year,” said Kozar.

Transgender-related benefits include behavioral health support, such as  surgery, medications and hormones.

“Evaluations and procedures that result in changes to the body to conform to the identified gender will be covered when medically necessary,” said Kozar.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center health-case managers have plans to assist anyone who wishes to change their gender.

Transgender benefits have yet to fully be extended to the University of Pittsburgh regional campuses.

According to Pitt-Johnstown Human Resources Director Pamela Sabol, information is not given to staff members because Pitt-Johnstown does not have graduate students.

The exception being students enrolled in a part-time Master of Social Work program, or in Master of Science in Nursing or Doctor of Nurse Practice programs — graduate and professional programs offered on the Pitt-Johnstown campus through the University of Pittsburgh, according to the Pitt-Johnstown website.

“We get all of our information, what little we have, from Oakland … If the benefits extend to employees, we will definitely get more information,” said Sabol.

Benefits offered to students may hold an advantage over other campuses.

“It will be easier to recruit quality faculty and staff without regard to personal situations because they will know that Pitt is a welcoming and inclusive work environment,” said Pitt-Johnstown Housing Director Sherri Rae.

“When schools do not provide similar benefits, potential employees will often not even apply, or drop out of a search, even when they are the best qualified.”

Pitt-Johnstown Housing staff members are already one step ahead of dealing with living arrangements for gender specific needs.

“We began providing gender-neutral housing to students during last spring’s re-contracting period, prior to this announcement,” said Rae.

If faculty benefits come along with the benefits for gender change, Pitt-Johnstown members do not need to worry about living arrangement problems.

“The few Housing staff and coaches that are on campus are already housed without roommates, so there is no gender assignment to their housing,” said Rae.