Fresno State’s Student Health and Counseling Center has created a plan to offer students comprehensive gender-affirming care, beginning in the fall 2022 semester.
Gender-affirming care is a holistic approach to health care in which individuals can better align their physical traits with their gender identity. This will include forms of counseling and medical care to specifically support transgender and nonbinary students.
Gender-affirming care is provided only at a handful of other CSU campuses, including Cal Poly, Chico State, Long Beach State and San Jose State.
John Beynon, a faculty member in the English department, sparked efforts to provide this form care in 2020 while speaking to the Fresno State LGBT+ Allies Network about the possibility.
A subcommittee consisting of faculty and staff was then formed, focused on bringing gender-affirming care to campus. The subcommittee was led by Beynon and, later, Kat Fobear, a faculty member in the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department.
The group studied how gender-affirming care had been implemented at Chico State before meeting with Dr. Janell Morillo, associate vice president for Student Health, Counseling and Wellness and interim associate vice president for Student Success Services.
Morillo had already been working with Estevan Parra, coordinator of LGBTQ+ and Gender Programs and Services at the Cross Cultural and Gender Center and a member of the subcommittee, to enhance the experiences of LGBTQ+ students visiting the Student Health and Counseling Center by providing workshops to staff to make them more knowledgeable on LGBTQ+ inclusive practices.
“We want to ensure students receive the best possible care,” Morillo said.
Jordan Fitzpatrick, a graduate student representative on the subcommittee, advocated for hormone-replacement therapy to be accessible to students on campus. “When transgender and gender-nonconforming people do seek medical care in the Central Valley, they [often] face doctors who are not informed on how to care for [them], or refuse care, or are outright hostile,” Fitzpatrick said.
The plan includes hormone-replacement therapy, which will be provided on-site by an experienced physician, as well as counseling and psychological services, medical services, additional resources added to the Student Health and Counseling Center website, a gender-affirming care group, new staff positions at the Student Health and Counseling Center and a new student liaison position to bridge the Student Health and Counseling Center and the Cross Cultural and Gender Center.
The Student Health and Counseling Center’s mission is to encourage the maintenance of healthy lifestyles and provide affordable and accessible health and psychological care. All health care services are supported by a fee paid by enrolled students each semester, granting access to services conveniently located on campus.
“I’m so proud of the health center staff and everything they’re doing to support our students’ physical and mental health,” Morillo said.
The various components of the plan will be introduced in phases, with everything fully established on campus by the end of the fall 2022 semester.
“It’s happening,” Parra said. “It’s been a collective effort and will continue to be a collective effort. I appreciate everyone who pushed to make this happen and the administrators who supported it.”
(Story by Marisa Mata, communications specialist for the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management)