The opinion piece that appeared in the previous edition of the Denisonian regarding the adoption of student insurance plans covering gender reassignment surgeries presented some troubling prospects for the future of higher education. Despite the implementation of student health coverage for gender reassignment surgeries by prominent Ivy League universities, there is no evidence that this policy will significantly impact the Denison community.Now, before someone calls the P.C. police on us, let us start by saying that we are neither bigots nor insensitive to the physical and psychological difficulties faced by transgender students. We have in fact seen the film Boys Don’t Cry. However, this entire notion of holding educational institutions responsible for funding all or most of an expensive gender reassignment surgery to promote a “comfortable atmosphere” is a logical fallacy in itself.
While Denison University does make the commitment to inspire and educate students to become autonomous thinkers, discerning moral agents, and active citizens of a democratic society, it does not promise to “make all students feel included and free to be themselves.” While we do agree that the attending to the needs of students outside the classroom is a desirable goal for any university, a line has to be drawn at some point. The Encyclopedia of Surgery defines elective surgery as, “a planned, non-emergency surgical procedure…either required (e.g. cataract surgery) or optional (e.g. breast augmentation or implant) surgery.” The fact of the matter is that gender reassignments are purely elective procedures which are only rarely covered in employee health benefit packages, let alone student insurance plans. We are strongly in favor of improving gender-neutral accommodation options, but university funded hormone treatments and plastic surgery is incomprehensible. Without regards to the economic burdens associated with the coverage of these medically unnecessary surgeries (Denison has far fewer monetary resources than world class research universities), a policy of providing costly special treatment to transgender students will surely raise some eyebrows. Now, given the nature of a gender reassignment surgery, it would stand to reason that a student insurance plan covering such an operation should also pay for breast implants, liposuction, facelifts, collagen treatments, Botox injections, and every other elective surgery that provides physical alterations with the goal of making the patient happier in their body. Yet something tells us that the Breast Reassignment Alliance (B.R.A.) wouldn’t make much headway with the university administrations. Some would say that is a tragedy, but to us it is simply common sense.