Delayed, disrespected and deadnamed: Transgender students face barriers to healthcare at Yale
The News spoke to 17 students and faculty about their experiences seeking gender-affirming care at Yale Health. All but one of those interviewed described having to work around numerous hurdles within a confusing system of care.
Stephan Oliveira, Contributing Illustrator
Content warning: This article contains references to suicide.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a certified listener, call 988.
Crisis Text Line is a texting service for emotional crisis support. To speak with a trained listener, text HELLO to 741741. It is free, available 24/7 and confidential.
To talk with a counselor from Yale Mental Health and Counseling, schedule a session here. On-call counselors are available at any time: call (203) 432-0290. Appointments with Yale College Community Care can be scheduled here.
Students who are interested in taking a medical leave of absence should reach out to their residential college dean.
Additional resources are available in a guide compiled by the Yale College Council here.
Resources about gender-affirming care and navigating trans life at Yale are available in the trans@yale Survival Guide.
Seeking feminizing hormone replacement therapy, F. first went to the Yale Health website — only to find a single paragraph stating that she would be referred to an endocrinologist in specialty services, with no phone numbers or further information.
The website was not organized in a “clear and compiled way,” said F., who has been granted anonymity to protect her privacy. Instead, she had to move through multiple different web pages to get the information she needed and still could not figure out which numbers to call.
Receiving conflicting responses from various departments at Yale Health while simultaneously calling providers across the state, F. said she spent hours of her day on standby. She thought constantly about her gender dysphoria and the fact that she could not access hormone replacement therapy, a process which she said led her mental health to deteriorate.
“It sucks to sit with that because you have to navigate this all by yourself,” F. said. “It’s super isolating. There are very few trans people on campus and very few trans people in my life. The only reason I got through it was because of word of mouth and trans people… It’s a cycle because some days you don’t have the energy to do anything or to make those calls because my gender dysphoria was so bad.”
The News interviewed 17 Yale students and faculty who had sought gender-affirming care. Of that 17, 11 chose to seek care outside of the Yale Health network due to delays or incompatible treatment options. 11 also reported having been deadnamed or misgendered at some point in their interaction with Yale Health. Of the remaining six, five had not interacted with Yale Health.
Four of the students the News spoke to said the quality of Yale’s health care coverage was a major reason why they chose to attend the University. However, students and faculty expressed frustration at their experiences with Yale Health, not only by the limited coverage under the Basic Student Health Services insurance plan but also by a pattern of deadnaming and misgendering from healthcare providers.
Last summer, F. called Yale Health’s Specialty Services, along with their Pediatric Gender Program and the endocrinology department. She received different responses from each, and was told varying wait times to get an appointment that ranged from one month to a year and a half.
However, F. was ultimately unable to access hormone replacement therapy at Yale Health, as it is currently only offered under Yale Hospitalization/Specialty coverage. Yale Health’s Hospitalization/Specialty Care Coverage plan extends beyond the Basic Student Health services all students receive and comes with a cost of $1,378 — however, that cost is waived for those on full financial aid.
For F., Hospitalization/Specialty Care Coverage was “off the table” due to its high cost compared to her parent’s insurance and because it only included limited care at Yale Health, which would not fulfill the medical needs that come along with F.’s physical disability. F., who is not out to her parents, also has privacy concerns that prohibit her from using their insurance to cover gender-affirming care, as a diagnosis of gender dysphoria would have appeared on her parent’s insurance.
F. continued to seek gender-affirming care throughout the summer and early fall of 2022. She would wake up in the mornings before classes and call different hospitals and gender support programs in Connecticut. Healthcare providers often lacked information about trans healthcare, F. said, and she described a “constant back and forth” in which hours of her day were spent waiting to get calls and voicemails back from providers.
She ultimately found care through Anchor Health — the largest trans healthcare provider in Connecticut that does not require insurance — but was placed on a waitlist for six months. This process, as well as facing severe gender dysphoria without care, took a toll on F.’s mental health. She was hospitalized in early spring of 2023 at Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital.
“I couldn’t tell if I was suicidal because of my dysphoria or because [of] what I had to go through,” F. said.
Even while receiving care through Anchor Health, F. said she still found it frustrating to navigate gender-affirming healthcare without insurance. F.’s private insurance through her parents bars her from accessing HUSKY, Connecticut’s state health insurance. Despite finding care in the end, she described the entire process as unnecessarily complex, especially because Yale Health does not publicize alternatives for gender-affirming care such as Anchor Health and Planned Parenthood.
These experiences seeking care, F. said, have discouraged her from pursuing further gender-affirming care beyond hormone replacement therapy.
“I think I’d be interested in more [gender-affirming services],” F. said. “It’s just that it has been so demoralizing and just so soul-crushing to have to go through that. I just don’t want to have to put up with that.”
Organizations such as the ACLU, Human Rights Campaign and Transformations Project have been tracking the status of legislation targeting transgender people in the United States, amid increasing national scrutiny and persecution. Over 500 anti-transgender bills have been proposed across the country as of April 27.
Many of these bills target gender-affirming care, which refers to treatments that support a transgender or nonbinary person in their transition — a period of time during which an individual takes steps to express their gender identity. These treatments can range from interventions such as hormonal replacement therapy and surgery to social forms of care that expand beyond the transgender patients themselves, such as using the name and pronouns that an individual chooses for themself.
Connecticut is one of the few states that does not currently limit gender-affirming care, and Yale has stated a commitment to increasing access to “comprehensive, effective, and affirming health care services for trans persons.” Included within this commitment is a promise to respect a patient’s privacy, treat a patient with consideration and dignity and provide care that is responsive and sensitive to a patient’s health concerns and needs.
In a statement to the News, Chief Operating Officer of Yale Health Peter Steere wrote that Yale Health’s Basic Student Health Services provides primary care services to all enrolled and eligible students. Yale Health’s Hospitalization/Specialty Care Coverage covers prescription medications as well as many specialty care services, including gender-affirming care referrals to endocrinologists at Yale Medicine, which also accepts private insurance.
“Gender-affirming care is a continuum,” Steere wrote. “Much of the associated care is covered under the basic plan. Gynecology, student health, mental health services, and care management are included in basic coverage for all students.”
Steere added that while Basic Student Health Services does not include endocrine or surgical care, both are covered under Yale Health’s Hospitalization/Specialty Care Coverage plan, including hormone therapy and top and bottom surgery — gender-affirming surgeries that focus on the chest and genitalia respectively.
He also recommended students contact a care manager at Yale Health who is experienced with gender-affirming clinical services and can provide information and help patients connect with specialists, both at Yale and those affiliated and approved through Yale Health.
Barriers to HRT
Doctors may prescribe hormone replacement for a variety of reasons, but in the case of gender-affirming care for transgender and nonbinary individuals, hormone replacement therapy is used to achieve masculinizing or feminizing effects.
Individuals may take HRT through a variety of routes of administration, including ingesting oral supplements, injecting subcutaneously or intramuscularly or through a topical gel patch. Testosterone cypionate and estradiol valerate are common hormones used in hormone replacement therapy to achieve masculinizing and feminizing effects, respectively, but some may also take additional medications such as testosterone blockers like spironolactone or bicalutamide to supplement their effects.
Yale previously required patients to present letters of recommendation to be allowed to start hormone replacement therapy, but in September they switched to an informed consent model — which does not require letters of recommendation to receive HRT — to comply with the recommendations published in 2022 by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.
F. said this change was a “big deal,” but the fact that HRT is still not covered under the Basic Student Health Services plan remains.
Letters of recommendation, F. said, magnify privacy concerns students may have about who knows that they are seeking gender-affirming care, as students may not feel safe coming out to their therapist or whoever else they need recommendation letters from. Furthermore, a gender dysphoria diagnosis may show up on private insurance records.
F. also added that the previous requirements were “condescending,” adding to the barriers that exacerbate the mental health issues that can accompany gender dysphoria by forcing trans students to prove their need for care.
Studies have reflected that among youths between the ages of 13 and 20, receiving gender-affirming care has been associated with a decrease in suicide risk of 73 percent and a decrease in depression risk of 60 percent.
J.D. Wright ’24 said she gave up on trying to start hormone replacement therapy at Yale after unsuccessfully trying to get in touch with Yale Mental Health and Counseling at the beginning of her fall 2021 semester.
Wright requested a therapist early in the fall and was assigned a therapist around two months later; however, once she reached out to her therapist to set up an appointment, she never received a response. After her therapist failed to answer her email all semester, Wright pivoted and set up a telehealth appointment with Planned Parenthood instead.
Wright had learned about Planned Parenthood’s services through Aster Aguilar ’24, a student assistant at the Office of LGBTQ Resources and a member of the Gender Resources of Yale Committee, who Wright said has become a point of contact for individuals seeking gender-affirming care.
“I felt more confident in going through Yale Health even though Aster warned that they’re not great,” Wright said. “I knew about both options from the very start, from the time that I had made the decision to seek out gender-affirming care, but I thought Yale Health would be a lot easier than it actually was, and I thought there were more downsides to going through Planned Parenthood than there actually were.”
Wright said that these difficulties accessing treatment drastically impacted her health, particularly mentally.
Just like F., Wright cited delays in accessing care as a source of strain on her mental health. She told the News that her mental health improved after she was prescribed hormones, and she wished that she would have been allowed to transition “five months earlier.”
“That’s five more months of my life that I would have been a little happier for,” Wright said.
Aguilar said that the prior model for the approval of HRT at Yale Health was a large hurdle. At the time Aguilar applied to get HRT, the requirement of multiple letters was difficult for her to fulfill because the only therapist she could access was cisgender and recommended she talk to other trans people.
Aguilar said that numerous organizations, such as Anchor Health and Planned Parenthood, used the informed consent model far before Yale. Further, Aguilar said that Yale Health never issued a notice that they switched to the informed consent model, so she only found out about the switch through a meeting with Yale Health leaders — one which followed rallies calling for the change.
In Steere’s statement to the News, he wrote that the Yale Health website was updated to reflect the change, which was also communicated to patients seeking care.
However, Aguilar added that vaginoplasty and other surgeries still require multiple letters. Currently, Yale Health requires one letter of support for top surgery and one to two letters for bottom surgery.
In addition to this change in policy, Director of the Office of LGBTQ Resources Samuel Byrd spoke on the imperative to include HRT in Yale Health Basic Student Health Services.
“[HRT] should be considered a form of primary care because it addresses the basic health needs of patients by helping to alleviate symptoms and improve their overall quality of life,” Byrd wrote to the News.
Byrd added that Yale Health has been “responsive” in ongoing conversations with students on these issues and is working on plans to enhance training of primary care clinicians in gender-affirming care.
Elle Wiggs ’26 passed by the Office of LGBTQ Resources over the summer while on campus for the First-Year Scholars at Yale program and heard that gender-affirming care was free. Wiggs said the cost of care was a “big hurdle” because they come from a first-generation, low-income background. Once on campus, they decided to get paired with a peer liaison who gave them advice on how to navigate receiving HRT through Yale Health.
However, after reaching out in January 2023, Wiggs was told by their primary care provider at Yale Health that the wait time for HRT would be approximately six months, and they would need a letter of recommendation from Mental Health and Counseling prior to starting treatment, despite Yale’s switch to the informed consent model in September 2022.
After reaching out to MHC, Wiggs was told they no longer needed the letter of recommendation. Wiggs was annoyed that they had been made to waste their time getting in contact with MHC when it was not necessary to do so.
Aqua Lake ’25 also had been provided misinformation about the informed consent model implemented last September.
At a February 2023 appointment, Lake said he was misgendered by a nurse before being seen by their endocrinologist, an associate professor of endocrinology at Yale School of Medicine. The provider, according to Lake, then insisted that she did not have an appointment with Lake.
“She held her head in her hands and took several moments to gather herself,” Lake said. “I was confused as to why she would have such an intense reaction to simply having an appointment scheduled without her knowledge.”
At the appointment, Lake said he expressed his decision to start testosterone gel — a form of hormone replacement therapy. However, rather than giving him the informed consent paperwork, the endocrinologist insisted that she needed to consult with his psychiatrist. After he asked why, she said it was just “the way she practiced medicine.”
Lake reported having a rescheduled consultation a week later. At this consultation, he was given his prescription for hormone replacement therapy.
Lake stated that the change to the informed consent model was a motivating factor for him to try to access HRT through Yale Health. While he was grateful that he was able to access an endocrinologist for free under the Hospitalization/Specialty Care Coverage plan and without a letter of recommendation, he said his life would have been made far easier if these initial difficulties getting care had not been present.
Because they believed that Yale’s requirements for HRT were more stringent than those of other healthcare systems — including the previously-required therapist referral — Akio Tomura-Ho ’23 eventually chose to receive HRT through Anchor Health.
When Tomura-Ho sought therapy with Yale Mental Health and Counseling during their first year, they waited a whole semester just to be assigned to a white cisgender male therapist.
“I hadn’t felt comfortable sharing deeply about my identity, and he had also seemed busy and overworked, so I had discontinued appointments,” Tomura-Ho said. “I did not want to have to repeat this arduous process all over again to access basic hormone therapy and I was advised [by a Yale Health staff] to seek outside care to avoid this long process.”
Hailey Schoelkopf ’23, like F., initially sought HRT at Yale Health, but ultimately went to Anchor Health to avoid outing herself to her parents and said she was very glad she stuck with the latter option.
When Schoelkopf initially went to Yale Health, prior to the change to the informed consent model, she was immediately frustrated with the care she received.
“I tried calling Yale MHC for a first appointment with the goal of getting an immediate referral for HRT from a therapist, but I never got matched with a therapist or any return email or call,” Schoelkpof said. “It definitely discouraged me from trying again to get HRT at Yale and I didn’t try again to get on HRT for some months after that.”
Navigating insurance coverage for surgeries
Yale’s health system, unlike all other Ivy League institutions, is structured as a healthcare maintenance organization, rather than the typical model of preferred provider organization. As a healthcare maintenance organization, or HMO, Yale runs on a structure that offers a local network of doctors or hospitals and requires a primary care provider at Yale Health to coordinate care. The alternative, a preferred provider organization, or PPO, allows for out-of-network coverage but often has greater costs.
Therefore, students can either find medical services through Yale Health Hospitalization/Specialty Coverage, which covers many gender-affirming surgical options — including facial feminization surgery, a procedure many insurance providers do not cover — or try and get referrals to doctors outside of Yale Health, some of whom have contracts with Yale that allow the utilization of Hospitalization/Specialty Coverage. However, if a provider is not connected with Yale, then an individual will have to pay the costs for that care upfront and then file a claim for reimbursement — but funding is not guaranteed.
Three years ago, Laurel Turner ’25 was seeking gender-affirming surgery. After Yale Health failed to respond to Turner’s numerous emails about the coverage details for gender-affirming care outlined in the Yale Specialty plan, Turner said she snuck into the building while the building was locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic to get administrators to speak with her.
Two years later, Turner was finally able to receive the surgery. She then needed another gender-affirming surgery, for which she only had to wait one year. She said she faced a shorter wait time for this second procedure because she was then already aware of how to navigate Yale Health and its insurance structure.
However, Turner expressed concern regarding the lack of institutional memory about how to obtain gender-affirming care, because many students rely on previous testimonies to know how to access it.
“I feel like a lot of people have come to me to ask questions about [gender-affirming care], and I’m kind of scared,” Turner said. “I know a lot about Yale’s insurance procedure, but I’m going to graduate and then how is that knowledge gonna get passed on?”
After reaching out to Mount Sinai Hospital to schedule a vaginoplasty, Aguilar spoke to Christina Pivorotto, a registered nurse under Complex Care Management, who was able to arrange for the surgery to be covered by the Hospitalization/Specialty Coverage plan. However, Aguilar said this is often done on an “individual basis.” According to Aguilar, this surgery, which is very specialized, is not offered at Yale Health.
In conversations with the News, other students expressed concern about the lack of specialized options at Yale.
Sasha Karsavina GRD ’28 told the News that she is only aware of Yale Health having one surgeon who conducts top surgery. Yale Health did not respond to a request to confirm this number. Karsavina said that coverage limitations are similar for graduate school students, adding that the reality of gender-affirming care at Yale was totally different than what she expected.
Karsavina started the process of trying to get a consultation for two surgical procedures with Yale Health in September 2022. She originally thought the Yale Hospitalization/Specialty Coverage plan would cover these procedures, but later found out that she did not have many options in-network.
It was not until six months later that she was able to secure scheduled consultations, after several short phone calls and a final significantly longer phone call where she reported having resorted to screaming. Karsavina said she first called in late November or early December, and received consultations for late February and late March.
In previous calls, Karsavina had been told that prior to being scheduled for a consultation, she would need a letter of recommendation from a therapist. She began therapy for that specific reason, only to find in this final call that a letter of recommendation was not needed at all to acquire a consultation.
“I came here because I really wanted to get surgeries,” Karsavina said. “I wanted to have a fast track and honestly, for the first six months, I had zero idea how you had to navigate the system. I just believed people, I trusted everyone. And … it swallowed up so much of my time to do so much because also at some point they were like ‘Oh, you’re depressed’ and I’m like, I’m partially depressed because I can’t get surgeries.”
Karsavina was also dissatisfied with the options provided by the practice of Angie Paik, the Yale Health surgeon in charge of top surgery.
In a consultation, Karsavina said that Paik told her that, on principle, she does not conduct a particular form of feminizing top surgery that is done underneath the muscle. Karsavina said she also had to urge Paik to show previous results for feminizing top surgery, which Paik initially refused to disclose, stating that because Yale Health is a research hospital, they do not typically show those results. Karsavina said she did not feel comfortable going to Paik for surgery and elected to seek out-of-network care with a surgeon who specializes in top surgery for transfeminine individuals.
“They have to allow out-of-network coverage or they have to create infrastructure that would actually attract specialists,” Karsavina said. “It can’t just be something that they view as supplemental or view as an accessory. If it’s going to be something that they tout as one of the selling points for the students, they have to make it a priority and they have to make it something where it’s more of a holistic effort rather than just cherry-picked.”
Lake also had concerns about his experience with masculinizing top surgery with Paik.
Two weeks after his top surgery, he developed an infection in his incision and had to follow up with Paik frequently to monitor the infection. Lake said that at his follow-up appointment in February, two practitioners — whom he had not been told the position of — entered his examination room.
“These were not nurses and they were not providers of mine,” Lake said. “No one asked me if it was okay for them to be present, not even when I had to stand there topless and have my breasts marked with a marker by Dr. Paik.”
Paik did not respond to a request for comment. However, Nita Ahuja, the chair of the department of surgery, replied on behalf of the department.
“Regarding your email inquiry, medical records are confidential, and we cannot discuss specific patients or their cases,” Ahuja wrote in an email to the News. “Yale Medicine is dedicated to providing exceptional patient care. Our physicians are experts in their fields, who are fully certified in the procedures they perform.”
“The reimbursement game”: Reimbursement structures for electrolysis
Numerous students also expressed concern over the reimbursement system for electrolysis — a method of removing individual hairs from the face or body by destroying the growth center of the hair with chemical or heat energy — at Yale Health.
Arjaan Miah ’26, who benefitted from Turner’s “institutional knowledge,” initially sought hormone replacement therapy at Planned Parenthood after learning it would be faster than seeking treatment through Yale Health’s endocrinology department.
However, she sought electrolysis through Yale Health, which at the time cost $80 per weekly session. Miah said this was “a big barrier” because she did not always have money in the bank at the time of payment.
Yale Health only reimburses a maximum of $60 per session. Miah stated that many Yale students visit a local electrolysis provider whose sessions typically cost $80, although Miah mentioned that a few students have paid $85.
Miah described this payment system for electrolysis as a “reimbursement game.”
In his statement, Steere wrote that in response to feedback, Yale Health has increased coverage for electrolysis to $125 per hour, from $60 per hour, effective April 1, which has been communicated to patients seeking this service.
Tomura-Ho, like Miah, has been dissuaded from seeking electrolysis due to the reimbursement cost, especially given that they had heard from others that the reimbursement process can take a while.
Aguilar, who has started electrolysis at Yale Health, described the costs as “through the roof” and “a pain.”
Her costs, which currently amount to $500, were submitted to Yale at the start of March, but Aguilar said she has not received the reimbursement yet.
Aguilar added that these costs may be higher for those trying to get full beards removed, which would require weekly sessions, or those who need hair removal for bottom surgery, which can take up to 40 hours.
Another barrier to accessing electrolysis is the referral system. Miah recalled that when she first went to Yale Health seeking a referral for electrolysis, the provider told her that Yale Health does not offer such referrals. However, after Miah explained that electrolysis referrals were common practice at Yale Health — something she knew because of Turner, her peer liaison — the provider wrote her one.
Misgendering and deadnaming at Yale Health
In addition to the issues accessing gender-affirming care through Yale Health, many students also told the News that they have faced misgendering or deadnaming while receiving care or in communications from Yale Health. Deadnaming is an experience in which individuals refer to transgender people by a name that is not their preferred name.
Lake told the News he has had his chosen name and pronouns recorded in MyChart for the past eight months. However, every time he goes to Yale Health, he is referred to incorrectly.
“During the morning of my top surgery I was referred to as ‘she’ by the nurses putting my IV in,” Lake said. “I corrected them but they continued to misgender me. The nurses in the endocrinology department did the same thing during my HRT consultation.”
Lake also said his psychiatrist from YMHC misgendered him consistently in after-visit notes — months after he came out as trans.
Lake said that he’s grateful for the access to free gender-affirming care at Yale Health, but the consistent misgendering has led to frustration, especially as it comes from the very providers helping him in his female-to-male transition.
“Being deadnamed and misgendered nearly every time I try to access care at Yale Health has significantly impacted my relationship with pursuing treatment,” Lake said. “There were times when I delayed picking up my important medication from the Yale Health Pharmacy because I knew that I would be referred to by my deadname whenever they called out that my prescription was ready. Every time I sit in a Yale Health waiting room I try not to panic about the very real possibility that my deadname will be called out in front of everyone.”
Lake told the News that he has medical-based PTSD that developed prior to coming to Yale. Attending appointments at Yale Health is only possible because of years of weekly therapy, he said.
Lake said that he knows that attending these appointments will be incredibly stressful for him, at times leading to “uncontrollably crying and passing out from stress,” which is why he delays his own care.
“On paper it sounds great that Yale provides gender-affirming care, but in reality, it’s an exhausting circus,” Lake said. “If I was any less resilient and determined of a person I would have never transitioned at Yale.”
Like Lake, Maxwell Kiekhofer ’26 experienced deadnaming and misgendering both while seeking gender-affirming care and in online communication with Yale Health. Kiekhofer has been deadnamed multiple times via MyChart message, even at the beginning of conversations, and often is misgendered with she/her or they/them pronouns, when he prefers he/him pronouns. Even after correcting providers, Kiekhofer said, they often continue to use his deadname.
Kiekhofer said his worst misgendering experience occurred when referred to gynecology at Yale Health. Due to pain he was experiencing, Kiekhofer was told he needed to have two different types of ultrasounds – both of which he did not feel comfortable getting as a trans man.
In a recent appointment with gynecology, Kiekhofer was deadnamed twice — once when his deadname was called out into the waiting room. While the check-in staff corrected themselves and later apologized, Kiekhofer said the “damage was already done.”
“This has happened multiple times, and each time it happens I feel more likely to sacrifice my health to avoid being deadnamed or misgendered,” Kiekhofer said.
Community support and activism
In addition to advocating for HRT to be covered under Yale Health Basic Student Health Services, students are currently working to make the process of finding resources for gender-affirming care — which often involves relying on word-of-mouth — more clear and accessible at Yale.
Currently, Trans@Yale, a student organization on campus, has a survival guide that was crafted by students for students. One of the stated goals of this guide is to preserve a semblance of institutional memory for future transgender students at Yale. The pages outline ways to navigate the Yale Health Hospitalization/Specialty Coverage and other approaches to access gender-affirming procedures.
Aguilar said creating the guide has taken a long time, especially given that students at the Office of LGBTQ Resources only recently began being compensated for the work on the guide as well as their work spreading awareness on trans issues outside of healthcare.
Byrd wrote to the News that the Office advocates for a wide range of issues involving discrimination and harassment, promoting LGBTQ-inclusive policies, education about LGBTQ issues and equity and access across the board.
Work this year, Byrd added, has also focused on combating the national rise in anti-LGBTQ hate.
“This year alone, over 469 anti-trans bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the US ranging from drag bans, health care bans, censorship and forced outing, bathroom and sports bans — each of which have real-world impacts on members of our community,” Byrd wrote. “On campus, advocacy ranges from continuing to update primary and secondary data systems, addressing housing, restrooms, healthcare needs, and promoting inclusive educational and workplace practices.”
The Office also provides individual and group consultations and support with navigating the coming-out process, transition and Yale student life. The Office hosts a Gender Resources @ Yale committee, a Beyond the Binary social group and programming for TransWeek and TransVisibility, along with having a Qloset with gender-affirming clothing and shapewear like binders or gaffs.
Students interviewed, many of whom are involved in the Office and its subcommittees, told the News they have met with the leaders of Yale Health as well as administrators who oversee student life to discuss their concerns about trans healthcare.
Dean of Yale College Pericles Lewis told the News he has met with student representatives from the Office of LGBTQ Resources, and that he conveyed many of their concerns to former CEO of Yale Health Paul Genecin. However, since the switch in leadership in Yale Health, Lewis said he has not spoken with the new leaders regarding the concerns about gender-affirming care.
Kiekhofer, who serves as a Queer Student Alliance representative, told the News that the Queer Student Alliance — an LGBTQ+ umbrella activist group that educates, mobilizes and unites students on issues facing the LGBTQ+ community — met with Lewis about gender-affirming care.
AJ Eckert at Anchor Health said that a solution to these widespread discrepancies for transgender populations lies in training all doctors in all specialties to provide competent gender-affirming care. He said that the solution to transgender healthcare is not to place all transgender individuals in a specialized clinic, but to ensure that all physicians are competent in caring for these populations.
“To be able to see a patient and when they disclose to you that they’re trans or gay or whatever it is that you’re not comfortable with to be able to say ‘okay, well go to that clinic there the gender clinic,’ that’s wild to me,” Eckert said. “It’s wild to me that a doctor can literally say, ‘Well, I don’t know enough about that.’”
The only student who reported not experiencing any deadnaming or misgendering in her interactions with medical staff in any setting was Hannah Szabo ’25.
Szabo began attending Yale New Haven Hospital’s Pediatric Gender Clinic at the age of 11 and has continued to do so throughout her time at Yale. Szabo also reported that the process for electrolysis reimbursement was slow and that the wait times for certain procedures were incredibly lengthy, which weighed negatively on her mental health.
Szabo said that there is a GroupMe for transgender and nonbinary students on campus, which is often active with students asking questions about navigating the Yale Health system.
“I’m so glad [the chat] exists,” Szabo said. “But it shows something profound about the system that you don’t really have other group chats on this campus that end up being like seeking serious medical advice, right? You don’t usually have to turn to your peers for that. And I’m glad the trans community at Yale is so strong that we can turn to each other and support each other. But I don’t think we should have to be, there should be more institutional support.”
Szabo stated that she goes to the Pediatric Gender Clinic for all of her health care needs, save for blood tests, which she gets at the Yale Health building through Quest Diagnostics. She said that she had always had a positive and affirming experience, which she was disappointed to see was not the case for other transgender patients.
“I think it would be really, really awesome if we could just expect that every patient gets treated the same way when they go into a health care clinic,” Eckert said. “Because I’m really tired of the horror stories. It’s heartbreaking to keep hearing from patients how they are treated by other providers in 2023.”
The Office of LGBTQ Resources is located at 135 Prospect St.
Update, May 25: One paragraph was updated to protect privacy.