Discover how Concordia is diversifying services and healthcare for every student
Concordia offers several gender-affirming care services for students who need it. Now, the university is expanding their different services, making it more accessible to every student.
On Sept. 1, Studentcare, the insurance offered to students through the Concordia Student Union (CSU), added gender-affirming care to their list of services. Students born in Canada are automatically eligible to access Studentcare’s services, whereas part-time and international students must opt-in to the insurance.
Hannah Jackson is the External Affairs and Mobilization Coordinator at the CSU. She has been working on this project to allow every student the coverage they need for procedures such as laser/electrolysis removal, vocal surgery, chest-contouring/chest masculinization and more that can be accessed through their gender-affirming care page.
The insurance covers surgical procedures that aren’t covered by other provinces, which is something students hopefully will take advantage of.
“I’m hoping that people find out that [the service] is happening, because a lot of people—a lot of trans people—are heavily discriminated against in professional workplaces, and for that reason, trans-affirming insurance coverage is very rare in company insurance plans,” Jackson explained.
Jackson clarifies that gender-affirming care is more than adding or removing breasts and genitalia. She believes that hair removal will be a service in high demand, since people are strongly affected by facial dysphoria. Jackson wants every person who accesses these services to feel safe in their body.
“We have to be careful thinking about what we think is the order that people are going to want to get things done,” Jackson said. “We also have to be realistic about students and understand that many students are quite young. This is an age where people are often just figuring out their identities.”
Jessica Winton is one of the event planners at Queer Concordia. She went through her transition using resources outside of the university. While she didn’t use gender-affirming care, it did take a lot of work for her to learn to deal with her gender dysphoria. Hence the resources. She was finally able to look at herself in the mirror after her transition. She couldn’t help but admire and be proud of who she is.
“I have been waiting to feel happy about looking at myself for so long that once it finally clicked, it’s really nice. Just feeling that was like a big relief,” Winton said.
There are resources available to students through organizations and health services on campus, each of them dedicated to everyone’s needs.
The Centre for Gender Advocacy (CGA) is an independant, student-funded organization that promotes gender equality and empowerment, especially in marginalized communities. The centre offers peer support, drop-in and mental health wellness programming, gender-affirming gear, legal name change services, while also encouraging bodily sovereignty, self-love and confidence.
Gender-affirming gear available through the CGA are trans tape, breast forms, binders—compressions for the chest to flatten the upper body—and more.
Jordyn River is the CGA’s Administrative Coordinator. They want to make the CGA as accessible to students as possible. If a student cannot afford to purchase something, it doesn’t matter—everyone deserves to be taken care of, according to River.
“No one is turned away for lack of funds,” River said “That’s the beautiful thing about being able to be supported as a fee levy by students. We are able to provide all kinds of materials and resources to the entire student community.”
Political handlings of trans rights is still an issue, where the government is placing restrictions on trans rights, preventing them from receiving the support they need. River said that the fight is not over, as trans rights are still juggled around by politicians. “We’re fighting not for existence, but for joy,” River said.
Mischa Dempsey is a part-time student in Interdisciplinary Sexuality Studies, who accessed Concordia Health Services to see a doctor about birth control, and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). They have been following up with their doctor since Nov. 2021 and continue to have a positive experience with them.
“She’s been making sure that I know I’m in control of making choices and that she’s just there to support me and give me the information and make sure that I’m healthy,” Dempsey said.
Alongside River, Dempsey believes that this is a turning point for trans rights, where the government and society must understand that surface-level support is not enough.
“It’s not enough to just passively support by not being against [trans rights]. I think it is really important to be explicit and to let students know they can be cared for and they deserve to be cared for,” Dempsey said.
The CSU is organizing a gender health hub at the end of October. Be sure to visit their website and Instagram for further details on the event, which will be announced soon. The CGA also welcomes all students to take advantage of their services for the new school year.