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The Department of Veterans Affairs needs to allow transgender veterans to receive gender reassignment surgery, covered with the rest of all veterans medical treatments. The ban on reassignment surgery is discriminatory and leaves veterans without the care they need and deserve.
Despite recent talks of providing veterans and military personnel with coverage for gender reassignment surgery, the continued ban on this medical care is a lack of service to those who give their all for their country.
The United States military has banned gender reassignment surgeries since the early 1990s, unlike other countries which accept transgender military personnel and provide them with complete medical care. A directive in June of 2011 began coverage of hormone therapy, but that is not enough.
It is time for the VA to start covering medical services for all veterans! The ban on gender reassignment surgery for transgender individuals is a lack of care and leaves those veterans at risk.
Not being able to undergo gender reassignment can result in depression, and even suicide, for veterans who have been waiting for years to feel like themselves. Providing gender reassignment surgery at the VA would serve the estimated 1,320 to 6,630 current transgender service members in ways that the VA has refused to do so before, and would result in less than a 0.13 percent increase in current health spending. But even with the slight increase in spending, the health of our veterans must always come first.
The ban on gender reassignment surgery for military members and veterans needs to be reversed immediately by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Despite the fact that 18 different countries sport militaries that fully accept transgender service members, despite petitions from U.S. veterans themselves, and despite a perceived willingness to work with the transgender community, the VA has halted progress and taken a giant step back.
Sign the Petition below to force the VA to reverse their decision and provide full treatment for transgender individuals!
Dear Robert A. McDonald, Secretary of Veterans Affairs:
The Department of Veterans Affairs exists to provide care for all veterans, and it the responsibility of the Veterans Health Administration to provide adequate medical care for all veterans. That includes the estimated thousands of transgender individuals currently serving in the U.S. military and the thousands more who have already served. The coverage of gender reassignment surgery needs to be implemented and the ban on such medical care needs to end.
While a 2011 directive from the Department of Veterans Affairs began coverage for hormone therapy, that was just the first step towards providing the necessary care for transgender military personnel. The directive stated that the VA would assist with mental health, pre-operative evaluation, post-operative long-term care, and any routine health screenings, but that still leaves out coverage of gender reassignment surgery.
Transgender military personnel seeking gender reassignment surgery face depression which can lead to suicide if not given the ability to undergo the procedure. A study by the RAND Corporation in 2016 estimated that adding gender reassignment to the list of expenses covered by the VA would result in less than a 0.13 percent increase in current health spending. This is because only a small portion of the estimated 1,320 to 6,630 current transgender service members would elect to undergo the surgery each year.
However, in spite of recent talks in 2016 to lift the decades old ban on reassignment surgery, the procedure is still not being covered with the Department of Veterans Affairs citing budget issues as the reason. The slight increase in annual medial spending if this care were provided is far outweighed by both the potential detrimental mental health factors and the need to provide proper medical treatments for all service personnel without discrimination.
The VA should be accepting of all veterans and provide them with the best possible care. Yet, despite the fact that 18 different countries sport militaries that FULLY accept transgender service members, despite petitions from U.S. veterans themselves, and despite a perceived willingness to work with the transgender community, the VA still does not allow for the proper and full medical coverage for transgender individuals.
Secretary Robert A. McDonald, you can end discrimination and provide the best possible care for all of our veterans by allowing transgender individuals coverage of gender reassignment surgery in addition to the other medical services offered at the VA. Please reverse the recent decision to again disallow gender reassignment surgery at the VA and follow through with the plans to help all veterans as they seek the medical care that they need.