Progressive Healthcare

Cartoon by Julie Gundersen.
Cartoon by Julie Gundersen.
Cartoon by Julie Gundersen.

When the new academic year starts in August, SUNY New Paltz’s healthcare insurance provider will include gender-affirming procedures for Transgender students.

Student Association legislation that was recently passed will provide Transgender students with access to $25,000 worth of services, including hormone therapy and psychological assistance throughout the transition process. The $25,000 will come from a $7 increase on students’ current healthcare plans -— which a majority of students already said they were willing to pay.

We at The New Paltz Oracle commend the school and students who have pushed this legislation through. This is a tremendous source of pride for SUNY New Paltz; it’s a progressive step that not all schools are ready to take.

Despite the vitriol spewed on the bewilderingly still-popular Facebook page New Paltz Secrets, SUNY New Paltz as an institution has made strides in providing a more open and accepting environment for Transgender students. Though implemented slowly, the number of gender-neutral bathrooms on-campus has increased over the past several years and the trial run of gender-neutral housing was a success during its inception two years ago — and since then more residence halls have included spaces for gender-neutral housing.

When the ideas and possibilities of gender-neutral spaces were first discussed, we at The Oracle stressed that these sort of amenities are not something we bring to our campus so we can look “more progressive;” we have these things because they are a necessity for members of our campus community.

When the Facebook page New Paltz Secrets’ popularity reached a boiling point, we stressed this point — being progressive in name means nothing, especially when a student body does not practice what they preach. But now, with this development in legislation, we believe the campus community has taken the notion of this necessity to heart, and with each year we see the school exploring the options available to make SUNY New Paltz a safe space for Transgender students.

The transition process is a long and stressful one. It’s a lifelong process that can take years of medical assistance. The physical therapies necessary for it are seemingly endless, and the mental and emotional therapy needed can take an enormous toll on individuals transitioning. The $25,000 allocated to Transgender healthcare services will provide for at least four years of these numerous therapies. It will cover an important amount of time for Transgender individuals who are transitioning during their college years.

While financial increases have a tendency to make people nervous, especially college students paying exorbant amounts just to attend school, we do need to stress that this is an important investment. If we are willing to spend thousands of dollars to attend our school, why not spend an extra $7 to help fellow classmates who would benefit from the extended healthcare services?

As a campus and as people in general, we need to do everything we can to create a safe space for students. Transgender healthcare is not special treatment for Transgender students; it is something they need to exist. Some Transgender students currently in attendance at SUNY New Paltz have to travel far distances in order to receive hormone therapy, which can be costly and draining. With the new healthcare, Transgender students will have access to necessary healthcare that enables them to exist without the stress of travel and accesibility.

SUNY New Paltz is a school that prides itself on progressiveness and inclusivity, and we often say that this is not necessarily the case. However, this is one of the moments where we can say that New Paltz has done a good job in being an inclusive and accepting campus.