Commentary by Jacob Rostovsky, American Jewish University, Graduate School of Non-Profit and Business Management
When you are transgender and attending college, you may come across issues that most students would never think about. As students, including ones that identify as LGB, are planning to choose their colleges, they do not have to find the answers that many transgender students have questions about. Trans* students have to think about health care options, dorm room situations and bathrooms in ways much different from non-transgender ones.
One of the great things that many colleges offer is access to safe and affordable healthcare. Larger campuses have clinics on site, where students can visit for all type of healthcare-related needs. However, transgender treatment is quite different from the average health problems the medical staff on colleges encounter. Transgender students need to be able to get their hormones and levels monitored, as well as have routine checkups by medical professional who understand the transgender body. Many colleges have not had the adequate training to provide comfortable and safe healthcare for these students. This is why it is extremely important to trans* students looking to get exclusive health care on campus to see how experienced the staff is with the community. Some colleges that have been trained in the field include Ohio State University, New York University, University of California Riverside, Penn State University and Emerson College.
As well as physical health care, it’s important the student explores the options the school has around counseling. It’s important that a school offers transgender friendly counseling services, especially if the student has not yet seen a therapist. With counseling services, the student is able to safely and freely explore their gender identity; all while working towards medical transition if that is something they desire. If the counselor on campus is not knowledgeable about this subject, what is already a confusing and frustrating time for the student will become even more so. The therapist doesn’t have to be the number one gender specialist in the area, but it’s good that they have some knowledge and experience with the issue.
However, students that do not find trans* inclusive health on the campus of their dreams should not be discouraged. Many campuses are actively looking to train and educate their staff to be able to meet the medical needs of transgender students. Schools want to make sure that their students feel safe and cared for, but they cannot address needs they do not know are there. That is why if the student feels the school needs education on transgender health care, it’s important to speak up and be that voice of change.