September 2, 2016

By Tallon Kennedy

tumblr_ocmg4cgare1ttbzsmo2_540It’s a long time coming for the University of Pittsburgh. On August 25th the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Pitt will now be covering transgender-related medical services for its faculty including “behavioral health support” and “medications such as hormones and surgery.”

This follows a recent push from the University to be more gender-inclusive. Last year it was announced that Pitt would be installing its first gender neutral dorm at Ruskin Hall during the upcoming fall semester. There has also been an effort from the University to provide more gender neutral restrooms on campus, as well as an encouragement of faculty and the student body to utilize whatever restroom they feel comfortable with.

However, this progress at times feels too slow, and often half-hearted. While Pitt is moving forward to provide transgender health benefits for faculty, the services for the transgender student body remain inadequate. Rather than providing similar assistance in covering costs of hormonal treatment and surgery for students, the transgender care page on the University of Pittsburgh’s website indicates that the University’s health services extent of assistance is counseling and referrals.

In the same vein, the push for gender-neutral facilities at Pitt isn’t all-encompassing. The Pitt News reported that “Pitt’s new restroom practice will not apply to locker rooms.” Also, there are lingering questions as to why Ruskin Hall is the only gender-neutral dorm, while gender-exclusive dorms still exist on campus, such as Holland Hall, which is a female-only dorm.

Pitt’s transgender care page proudly states “We’re not here to judge; we’re here to help.” While it may be true that the University is taking steps to assist individuals who break the gender binary, and is remaining largely nonjudgmental, there remains controversy over how helpful the University’s administration really is in its current state.

When oppression pervades like a dark shadow over someone’s life, a small lightbulb in the distance is hardly a comfort when so many people get to bask in unrestrained sunlight.
Picture courtesy of http://pittrainbow.tumblr.com/

Referenced and Related Articles:

https://www.studentaffairs.pitt.edu/shs/lgbtqia/trans/

http://pittnews.com/article/62434/news/beds-and-bathrooms-pitt-goes-gender-neutral/

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2016/08/25/Pitt-will-cover-workers-costs-for-transgender-related-services/stories/201608250202

http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2016/08/26/staff-faculty-at-university-of-pittsburgh-get-transgender-benefits/