- Associated Press - Friday, March 1, 2019

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The University of Kansas is expanding care for transgender students at its health center so students no longer have to leave campus to seek hormone therapy.

Transgender students will now be able to start and continue hormone therapy through the university’s student health center, Watkins Health Services, the Kansas City Star reported.

The university’s student health insurance plan will cover the services performed at the health center, said Doug Dechairo, director for Watkins Health Services. The center will also coordinate treatment with counseling staff.

The center’s health care offerings were very limited for transgender students, who often could only get prescriptions for medication filled. Students had to leave the Lawrence campus in order to get evaluations and lab work needed to begin the gender transition process. Some were forced to take buses or find rides to Kansas City for doctor’s appointments, said Noah Ries, president of the university’s Student Senate.

Ries said Dechairo approached student government leaders about expanding transgender care when the group was looking to better support transgender students and to make campus more inclusive for LGBTQ people. Student leaders have been working to give students access to an HIV prevention drug and covering the cost for transgender students to get new IDs to reflect their gender identity.

“It was almost serendipitous,” Ries said. “Perfect timing.”

Ries said the challenge is making sure that students know about the health center’s expanded services.

“Because the service is so new, I’ve been spending most of my time making sure students are aware of it,” Ries said.

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