VA takes "first necessary steps" toward offering gender affirmation surgeries
The Department of Veteran Affairs is beginning the process of offering gender affirmation surgeries through its health care system, Veteran Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough announced during a Pride event in Florida on Saturday.
Why it matters: The change would greatly expand the care available to transgender veterans, since the surgeries have never been widely covered by the department's health care plan.
- A 2016 RAND Corporation study estimated that the number of active-duty transgender troops could range from 2,000 to 11,000, but stressed that the true number could vary based on self-reporting.
What they're saying: "We are taking the first necessary steps to expand VA's care to include gender affirmation surgery — thus allowing transgender vets to go through the full gender affirmation process with VA by their side," McDonough said.
- "There are several steps to take, which will take time. But we are moving ahead, methodically, because we want this important change in policy to be implemented in a manner that has been thoroughly considered to ensure that the services made available to Veterans meet VA's rigorous standards for quality health care," he added.
The big picture: The announcement comes after President Biden in January overturned former President Trump's ban on openly transgender people serving in the military.