California Catholic Daily exclusive — Seventy-one colleges and universities across the United States cover sex reassignment surgery and hormone treatment under their student health insurance. Thirteen of those universities are in California: the California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Santa Cruz.

Students are automatically enrolled in the UC Student Health Insurance Plan (UC SHIP) when they register at a UC campus. They may waive this insurance only if they are covered by another plan that meets the university’s criteria.

A credible source tells CalCatholic that UCSD once performed sex-change surgery in the 1970s and 1980s, but now does not. According to the LGBT website at UCSD, student insurance covers sex-change surgery, but apparently the surgery is not performed on campus:

“USHIP and GSHIP cover hormone therapy and cover sex reassignment surgery. However, the campus is still working our access to medical providers for these benefits,” notes the website.

According to the UC Riverside transgender site, doctors willing and able to perform the surgery are being sought: “The UCR Health Center will make referrals to an off-campus medical practitioner with expertise in transgender hormonal therapy. If the student plans to use their student health insurance to cover the hormone therapy and referral doctor care, the student should first make an appointment with a UCR Health Center physician to get a referral…. The campus is working on a list of referral doctors.”

The University of California San Francisco, however, performs some sex reassignment surgeries and hormone treatments. The processes, which can range from $7000 to $50,000 (female to male is more expensive), are covered by the UC SHIP through Anthem Blue Cross when certain criteria are met. UCSF currently performs hormone therapy, voice therapy, and chest surgery, and is working to expand its transgender surgery program.

Forcing a female body to take on the appearance of a male or a male to take on the appearance of a female requires numerous surgeries and a lifetime of hormone injections. If a student at UCSF or any of the other UC campuses must travel for surgery, UC SHIP – which costs about $1300 per semester – covers some travel expenses for up to six trips, including:
a. Round trip coach airfare to the facility which is designated by the claims administrator and approved for the transgender surgery requested, not to exceed $250 per person per trip.
b. Hotel accommodations, not to exceed $100 per day for up to 21 days per trip, limited to one room, double occupancy.
c. Other expenses, such as OTC medical supplies, not to exceed $25 per day for each person, for up to 21 days per trip. Meals are not covered.

In June 2015, Dr. Paul McHugh, who was chief psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for 26 years, wrote an article in Public Discourse, explaining his experience: “At Johns Hopkins, after pioneering sex-change surgery, we demonstrated that the practice brought no important benefits.”

McHugh cites the case of Sweden:

“The most thorough follow-up of sex-reassigned people – extending over thirty years and conducted in Sweden, where the culture is strongly supportive of the transgendered — documents their lifelong mental unrest. Ten to fifteen years after surgical reassignment, the suicide rate of those who had undergone sex-reassignment surgery rose to twenty times that of comparable peers.”

[Editor’s note: One trans-friendly site said there were perhaps only a dozen or so physicians in the US who perform sex-reassignment surgery; another site linked to by the UC-Davis health center had a very short list of surgeons willing to do the deed — one was in Colorado, another in Thailand.]