We use the term trans as an umbrella term that includes folks who identify as trans, transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, gender questioning, agender, gender creative, gender fluid or elsewhere on the gender spectrum.
Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) provides on-site trans healthcare services. The UC Student Health Insurance Plan (UC SHIP) covers health treatment and care services for trans folks seeking hormone therapy and gender confirmation surgeries. This page is meant to provide a general outline of what services are available to students through both UC SHIP and SHCS. Specifics regarding physical aspects of transitioning should be discussed with your SHCS health provider (or your provider through your private health insurance plan). Further questions regarding insurance coverage through UC SHIP can be discussed with the SHCS Insurance Services staff on the third floor of the Student Health and Wellness Center. Also, the recommended online resources at the bottom of this page link to websites that cover important related topics in greater depth.
What Does UC SHIP Cover?
UC SHIP is a comprehensive insurance plan with extensive medical and mental health coverage for trans care. Hormone therapy is a benefit covered by UC SHIP for the appropriate co-pay. SHCS pharmacy provides convenient direct billing for SHIP enrollees with the lowest co-pay option.
If you choose to pursue Gender Confirmation Surgery, UC SHIP will cover a large percentage of the costs associated. How much of the cost covered depends on where you receive care.
If you receive care with an Anthem Blue Cross contracted provider, then services are covered at 80%, after you have met your $200 annual deductible. Out-of-network providers may also contract independently with UC SHIP to offer medical or surgical care at variable out of pocket costs to students on the plan.
UC SHIP covered students are required to obtain a referral from their SHCS provider prior to receiving any services outside of Student Health and Counseling Services.
You can find information about what is and is not covered by UC SHIP for transgender care in the 2023-2024 UC SHIP Transgender Benefits Flyer.
Talking to UC Davis Insurance Services staff about where you may want to receive care will help you get a better idea of the exact cost of care.
Other Trans Healthcare
Routine preventive care and monitoring of hormone-related physical, emotional and metabolic effects should be part of regular health maintenance and wellness care. Some health conditions or health risk behaviors like cigarette smoking may be significantly more important to address as part of transition.
If you smoke cigarettes, ceasing tobacco use is a health conscious move, particularly if you plan on starting hormone therapy. Tobacco increases the risk of heart and lung disease, especially in people taking hormones. Smoking cessation can be discussed with your healthcare provider when you go into your initial appointment, or you can make an appointment with the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Intervention Services Coordinator, by logging into your health e-messaging. When asked to “Select Appointment Category,” click on “Tobacco/Smoking Cessation."
Other types of healthcare are also exceptionally important for trans individuals. For example, some trans men could still be at risk for breast, cervical, uterine and ovarian disease if they have not undergone surgery to remove these body parts. Penile, testicular and prostate disease is also a risk for trans women who have not undergone removal surgery. Talk with your provider about what checkups should be done regularly in order to ensure your health.
Future fertility and contraception remain important considerations for trans patients. Fertility preservation through sperm banking is covered by many insurances. Individuals needing contraception can obtain this as a covered benefit without co-pay or deductible on all ACA-compliant insurance plans.
Other Trans Health Topics
A visit with a mental health provider at SHCS Counseling Services is a great place to start when pursuing your desire to initiate transition care. SHCS mental health staff have experience and training in working with trans students. Counseling Services offers an extensive staff of counselors to choose from. Visit the SHCS Meet Your Provider page to view the biographies of UCD Counseling Services Clinical Staff and Community Advising Network (CAN) Staff.
If you are considering starting hormone therapy, one of the first steps is talking with an SHCS medical provider who will guide you through the process. Not all providers initiate transition medications, but all can begin the basic health assessment process. It is always important to have a baseline medical evaluation prior to initiating hormone treatment. Hormone medication treatment is anticipated to be lifelong therapy and it is important to fully assess your health status, personal health risks and potential future health needs before starting.
Following your assessment, an SHCS medical provider will give you in-depth information about the hormones you will be receiving and the potential risks, benefits and limitations of medications used. An informed consent process ensures you and your provider have fully communicated important health information and you have had the opportunity to ask, and have answered, all questions you have regarding care.
In some cases, before giving you a prescription for hormones, your medical provider will refer you to a mental health professional if you have not previously been working with one. This mental health referral offers you the opportunity to receive services from a professional who will discuss your desire to transition and can assess any mental health needs that should be addressed or considered either before or at the time of hormone therapy initiation. Some insurance plans require that this therapist write a letter to your medical provider indicating that you are eligible and ready to start hormone therapy. The UC SHIP insurance plan does not require a mental health provider letter to start hormone therapy. However, UC SHIP benefit coverage requires one therapist letter to undergo breast removal (aka “TOP” Surgery) and a total of two letters, one letter each from two different mental health professionals, to undergo gonad removal or genital confirmation surgery.
- UC Davis Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Intersex Asexual Resource Center
- UC Davis Gender Group
- Sexual Health and Fertility: Trans Men and Trans Women (UCSF’s Center of Excellence for Transgender Health)
- Surgical Options (UCSF’s Center of Excellence for Transgender Health)
- Information on Hormones: Estrogen and Testosterone (UCSF’s Center of Excellence for Transgender Health)
- Changing Legal Identity Documents in California (Transgender Law Center)
- Legal Information Helpline (Transgender Law Center)
- Registering Your Preferred Name at UC Davis (Office of the University Registrar)
- Changes to Personal Information (Office of the University Registrar)
- Registering Your Gender Change at UC Davis (Office of the University Registrar)
- Gender Health Center in Sacramento
- The Transgender Visibility & Education Network