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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Cal Poly Campus Health and Wellbeing Adds Gender-Affirming Care

Written By Diego Abeloos

Cal Poly Campus Health and Wellbeing has added gender-affirming care to its slate of available health services to students, providing an on-campus option for transgender and gender-diverse students who seek to align their physical body with their gender identity.

Gender-affirming care is a basic medical service covered by student health fees with no additional co-pays or referrals required. As is the case with other campus health services, any associated prescription costs for gender-affirming care will range between $8 and $30 monthly.

“Being an inclusive campus means that we need to take steps in our provision of health care to meet our students where they are,” said Keith Humphrey, vice president for student affairs. “Adding gender-affirming care is one step in assuring all of our students feel welcomed and valued when they seek that basic human right of health care.”

The new service takes a multi-pronged individualized and integrated approach, combining hormone replacement therapy and additional medical services like lab testing with counseling and health education support to meet the varied needs of students seeking care. 

“Campus Health and Wellbeing’s core value is to ensure that we are accessible and available to all students,” said Tina Hadaway-Mellis, assistant vice president for student affairs, health and wellbeing. “Hormone replacement therapy can be an integral component to the primary medical care of our trans community at Cal Poly.”

According to a 2019 LGBTQ+ needs assessment by San Luis Obispo County, approximately 65% of transgender and nonbinary individuals experienced a high level of psychological distress. In addition, approximately 85% of transgender and nonbinary individuals admitted to having thoughts of suicide. Finally, 68% of those surveyed reported not knowing how to find an LGBTQ+ competent provider.

“LGBTQ+ people on the Central Coast continue to face stigma and discrimination, in addition to the significant lack of access to culturally affirming and informed health care,” said Samuel Byrd, lead coordinator of LGBTQ+ initiatives and coordinator of the Cal Poly Pride Center. “Our center recognizes this as an urgent need and has been consulting with both on- and off-campus groups to provide accessible, inclusive and high-quality health services for our students.”

Cal Poly’s gender-affirming care treatment team is co-chaired by Dr. Jennifer Bobell and Dr. Kimberli Andridge, and includes full-time psychiatrist Dr. Elisa Feingold and members of Campus Health and Wellbeing’s health education program. 

Bobell is a primary care physician for Campus Health and Wellbeing who has been in practice for 19 years. She is a 2000 graduate of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, where she also completed her family medicine residency in 2003. In September, Bobell attended Principles in the Care of Transgender and Intersex Patients, a three-day multidisciplinary conference at the Mayo Clinic that provided a comprehensive review of current standards of care for transgender and gender diverse patients.

Andridge serves as assistant director of operations and quality for Campus Health and Wellbeing’s Counseling Services and is a California licensed psychologist who has worked with socio-culturally diverse students from both public and private universities for nearly a decade. She has clinical training and experience in gender and sexual identity development, including her own research on the impact of geographic space on the experiences of trans women.