OPINION: Scarce resources at universities should be used for learning, not sex changes

University administrators across the country are deciding to add sex reassignment surgery to their health insurance plans. For example, in recent history, UC-Berkeley, Duke University, and the University of Illinois--Chicago (UIC) have all adopted this change.

Although adding plans that include the controversial surgery only benefit a select minority of students, you can be sure in almost every case, every student will be asked to bear additional financial burden.

At UIC, for example, many of the 28,000 students will be forced to pay an additional 1.1 percent per year increase on their university health care plans due to the change. Besides the fact that some students may object morally to the operation, it seems both unfair and dangerous to force the many to cater to the offbeat wishes of a few.

While the actual price tag per student is admittedly small per student, this change sets a precedent that in future could allow any minority force their peers to fork over cash for their parochial tastes or interests. Administrators, who are savvy business operators in one of the nation’s most profitable industries, education, surely perceive this danger and have had to concoct some odd explanations for why allowing this change makes sense, this time.

When UIC’s decision fell under the spotlight last week, administrators were forced to concoct a seemingly nonsensical argument to justify forcing all students to spend more to fund the surgeries. UIC Assistant Director of the UIC Gender and Sexuality Center Liz Thomson actually argued to Campus Reform that it was necessary to provide coverage for this procedure in order to increase campus safety.

“A lot of students might be born, assigned a born sex as female and identify as male and even if they’re able to get their name changed to a more male name or whatever name they want, if their outside expression does not fit who they are then that really also can put them at a physical safety risk,” she said.

Of course while the number one priority for education funding ought to be, well, education, there is a legitimate responsibility for administrators like Director Thomson to provide for the public defense.

But with universities and students as cash-strapped and debt-laden as we know they are, I think it's time to focus spending on real issues, like real education, and real spending. Students go to college to expand their horizons and prepare for adulthood, not question their biological makeup.

Gabriella Hoffman is a Regional Field Coordinator at The Leadership Institute where she is tasked with identifying, recruiting, and training young conservatives on college campuses. Follow her on Twitter: @Gabby_Hoffman

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