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Department of Veterans Affairs Begins Work to Expand Access to Health Care to Transgender Veterans

WASHINGTON, DC – The US Department of Veterans Affairs announced today that it will begin the process to expand health care services available to transgender veterans to include gender confirmation surgery.

“Everyone should have access to the health care they need to live healthy, happy lives,” said Mara Keisling, executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality. “We know that this is just the beginning of a long process, but it’s another step in the Biden administration’s effort to fight discrimination against transgender people, including our transgender veterans. Every veteran deserves to have access to the health care that they need, and the VA is working to make sure that includes transgender veterans as well.”

Currently, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) provides care for thousands of transgender veterans, including some transition-related medical care. However, VHA regulations previously maintained an outdated and discriminatory exclusion for transition-related surgical care.

“Transgender veterans have earned the right to the accepted, medically necessary procedures and protocols prescribed by their health care providers without being subject to discrimination based on gender identity. TAVA applauds VA Secretary Denis McDonough for announcing the proposed rule change and for his commitment to equality for all of America’s Veterans,” said Ann Murdoch, president of the Transgender American Veterans Association.

It is estimated that over 134,000 American veterans are transgender, and over 15,000 transgender people are serving in military today. The announcement was made during a speech in Orlando marking the five-year anniversary of the mass shooting at the Pulse Night Club by VA Secretary Denis McDonough while recognizing the significant discrimination – and violence –LGBTQ people face.

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