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LGBTQ Center

Vassar College


Does the Counseling Service hold LGBTQ+ identity centered groups?

All therapists are trained to provide gender affirming care in both individual and group settings. The Counseling Service is currently not holding LGBTQ+ identity centered groups, but does run LGBTQ+ student support groups in collaboration with the LGBTQ+ Center.

How can I get financial support to pay for off-campus counseling sessions (whether it be co-pays and/or transportation to the appointment)?

Students who are Pell Grant recipients are eligible to have their off-campus counseling co-pays and transportation paid for by the Vassar Mental Health and Wellness Fund. International students with similar financial situations to Pell Grant recipients may also qualify. If you are a Pell Grant recipient who is referred off-campus for counseling care, let the Counseling Service staff member you work with know that you need financial support. The counselor will then let you know the steps you need to take to request funding from the Financial Aid Office, which may including signing a release that allows your Metcalf counselor to talk with Financial Aid directly.

What is the availability of counseling at night and on the weekends?

The Counseling Service does not offer in-person counseling at night or on the weekend. However, students can access on-call emergency mental health assistance after 5 p.m. on weekdays and on weekends during the school year by calling the Campus Response Center at (845) 437-7333. Vassar uses ProtoCall, a national service staffed around the clock by mental health professionals. In addition, students can contact peer listeners through The Listening Center and entering “Vassar” as the password. Peer listeners are available everyday from 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m., for confidential support in non-emergency situations.

How can I find LGBTQ-friendly off-campus therapists?

LGBTQ+ students are welcome to ask their Metcalf counselor to recommend LGBTQ+-friendly off-campus providers. The Counseling Service keeps a list of counselors they have met and students have given overall positive reviews to and will work with you to try to find a good fit.

What kind of LGBTQ+ centered training do Counseling Service counselors receive?

All new Counseling Service counselors receive training on LGBTQ+ issues when they start at Vassar. The staff as a whole continually reviews and discusses best practices for supporting LGBTQ+ students throughout the year.

Are Counseling Service counselors required to ask if a student is LGBTQ+?

No, Vassar’s counselors are not required to directly ask for a student to disclose their sexuality or gender identity. Each session begins by asking students what names and pronouns they use. Students are welcome to share their specific sexuality or gender identity if they choose at any time.

What sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing is provided at Baldwin Health Service? Are there any fees?

All STI tests are available to students at Vassar’s Health Service, including HIV testing. STI tests are of no cost to the student if they are on the Vassar health plan. If the student is 18 or over, their parent(s) will not be able to have any access to the record of the STI tests because of privacy laws.

For students not on the Vassar health plan, STI testing is still available to you at Baldwin, but your insurance may require a co-pay. If charged a co-pay and you are uncomfortable with your parents receiving the bill for this service, let the Baldwin provider know and you can direct where the bill should be sent.

How can students get tested for HIV? Is it covered in Vassar’s student health plan?

Free HIV testing is covered by the Vassar student health plan, and can be administered at Baldwin.

What birth control is covered by Vassar student health plan?

For students on the Vassar health plan, Baldwin Health Service providers can write you a prescription for free birth control, which you can pick up at a local pharmacy. Or, if you need birth control immediately, Baldwin also has packs on hand, for $15 a pack.

What are my options for off-campus STI testing and/or birth control?

If you would like to go off-campus for STI testing and/or birth control, check out Planned Parenthood and/or the Dutchess County Health Department. It may be helpful to call in advance to see if they accept your insurance and/or what the costs of testing may be (HIV testing is free at the Health Department).

Is PrEP provided and covered by Baldwin and Vassar’s student health plan?

Not at this time. However, New York State is moving towards making pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) more affordable and available, so Baldwin hopes this might be covered by the school health plan in future years.

What kind of LGBTQ-specific training do Baldwin Health Service employees receive?

Baldwin employees are instructed to follow LGBTQ provider's Fenway Health and Callen-Lorde Community Health Center protocols since they are best practices in the field for supporting LGBTQ patients. Baldwin, Metcalf, and the Office of Health Education has received training from NYC-based LGBTQ health provider Callen Lorde in the fall of 2013. The offices plan to bring Callen Lorde trainers back in the 2015/16 school year for additional training and support.

Baldwin’s forms allow students to specify the name they would like to be called by the provider on the initial intake form, regardless of what their legal name may be.

As of fall 2015, Counseling Service therapists are unable to provide letters of recommendation for trans students due to current staffing levels. However, contact the Counseling Service for off-campus referrals to providers who can write letters of recommendation, as well as on-campus support or you as you navigate the process. In addition, Counseling is working towards having its therapists be able to provide letters of recommendation and is aiming to provide this service to students as soon as it is feasible.

What kind of documentation is needed to start hormone replacement therapy? Who can provide it?

A letter of recommendation from a qualified mental health professional with the appropriate background is what you need to start hormone replacement therapy. Counseling Service therapists can refer you to local providers who can write these letters of recommendation.

The steps vary depending on the kind of transition-related surgery students are seeking. For breast/chest surgery, one letter of recommendation is required from a mental health professional. For genital surgery, two letters of recommendations from mental health professionals that have assessed the patient separately, are required. For both kinds of surgeries, mental health professionals will also need to assess the patient’s personal and treatment history, progress, and eligibility.

Baldwin can administer hormones to students, as long as the student has a letter of recommendation that prescribes the hormones.