Students concerned about future of transgender healthcare

Portland State’s Student Health and Counseling department not only provides health insurance to thousands of students, but also offers some of the best transgender care in the nation.

The services SHAC provides include a Trans Health Advocate, partnership with the Queer Resource Center, transgender-friendly doctors, trans affirming fitness classes through Campus Rec, and a preferred name/pronoun option to be used campus-wide. PSU students are also covered under Title IX laws which address issues of discrimination.

With a Donald Trump presidency around the corner, many in the trans community are concerned with what this administration could mean for them.

Nick Walden Poublon is the Trans Health Advocate for SHAC. Poublon spoke about PSU’s history of trans health services.

“In 2007 PSU was one of the first universities in the nation to add trans health benefits to its insurance plan,” Poublon said. “We are committed to offering trans-identified students the same medical and counseling care they are accustomed to at SHAC in addition to the trans health benefits covered in the PSU Student Health insurance plan.”

Sarah McBride is the press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest queer rights organization. McBride was the first openly transgender person to speak at a major political party convention when she spoke at this year’s Democratic National Convention.

McBride recently issued a press release stating, “As we stand at the brink of a Donald Trump presidency, I and many of my transgender family and friends are frightened by what challenges face transgender Americans in the coming months.”

According to the HRC, at least 21 transgender people, predominantly women of color, have been killed in 2016 alone.

According to Poublon, following election day there were students calling SHAC with concerns about the future of their trans health coverage.

“I cannot, of course, speak for all of the trans students on campus, but I have received word from some students concerned about documentation and their ability to make necessary gender marker and name changes under the new administration,” Poublon said.

Although Trump has not publicly shown any animosity towards the trans community, there is still the expectation that he will adhere to the Republican platform. Historically the GOP platform has targeted those in the LGBTQ community with discriminatory legislation such as North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which banned individuals from using public restrooms that did not correspond with the biological sex stated on their birth certificate.

The newly ratified GOP platform offers support for state laws limiting bathroom use, the opposition of same sex marriage, and support for parents to subject their children to gay and trans conversion therapy.

Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence also has a history of anti-gay and trans policies during his time as governor of Indiana. Pence has publicly endorsed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which essentially sidesteps anti-discrimination laws on the basis of religious values.

Throughout his campaign, Trump has repeatedly stated that he would repeal Obamacare. Transgender Student Resource and Retention Coordinator Jill Seale says there are trans students worried about the future of their health care.

“There are a number of things that are pivotal to some folks’ transition that are controlled on a federal level, and thus are up in the air right now,” Seale said.

There is a legitimate fear of a Trump presidency within the trans community considering the violent acts McBride cited.

Seale also spoke about her experience in dealing with the fears of PSU students.

“There is also the reality of an increase in queer and trans-targeted violence since the election results, and many students I have talked to are worried for their safety and the safety of their friends and family,” Seale said.

PSU grad student and high school history teacher Eugene Smith plays guitar and sings in a local rock band called Millstone Grit. Smith, along with several other bands, recently played a benefit show collectively raising over $400 for Planned Parenthood to be donated in Governor Pence’s name. Smith currently receives their primary health care through SHAC’s trans health services and spoke about their experience.

“I meet with my doctor regularly and I don’t feel judged, I don’t feel hassled, and I don’t feel rushed, so my experience with SHAC has been overwhelmingly positive,” Smith said.

A certificate of donation will be sent to Pense, as are all donations made to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence’s name.

Those seeking more information about trans healthcare can contact Trans Health Advocate: Nick Walden Poublon at 503.725.2800 or [email protected].