HomeLatest NewsTransgender Veterans Take VA to Court Over Denied Gender-Affirming Surgery Coverage

Transgender Veterans Take VA to Court Over Denied Gender-Affirming Surgery Coverage

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A transgender veterans’ advocacy organization filed a second lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs. This lawsuit is meant to force Veterans Affairs to provide “gender-affirming surgeries” for former servicemen.

Veterans Affairs was urged to cover the surgeries that would help former servicemen “transition into” the opposite sex. They claim that the surgery is essential for their mental health.

The Transgender American Veterans Association filed a federal suit on Monday to challenge the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) denial of the petition that was submitted in 2016 to the VA asking it to extend its health benefits to cover gender-affirming surgeries for transgender veterans.

The VA also covers procedures that are gender-affirming, like hormone therapy, hair reduction, and fertility preservation. Since 2013, the VA has prohibited transgender vets from undergoing surgery. In a departmental directive, it was stated that “The VA does NOT provide sex-change surgery.”

Denis McDonough, VA Secretary, said at an event in Orlando for Pride Month 2021 that the Department plans to expand care to transgender veterans to include surgery. He cautioned that the change would take some time to implement.

The group wants the court to review the VA’s refusal to grant their rulemaking petition in 2016 and order the VA to provide gender-affirming surgeries.

The Vice president of the group is Josie Caballero. She has pledged to “not sit by as VA continues to discriminate against Transgender Veterans and breaks its promises” and that the “agency’s refusal of gender-affirming surgeries is an affront to dignity, well-being, and transgender veterans.”

In January 2024 the first lawsuit was filed to assist ex-servicemen who suffer from gender dysphoria.

Rebekka A. Ehler is the president of the Transgender American Veterans Association. She stated that they filed a lawsuit to force the VA to codify the verbal promises it made to start providing these services.

She said that surgeries are needed to reduce the risks of suicide, depression, and mental distress for transgender people who suffer from gender dissociation.

The Transgender Veterans’ Association filed a suit in Washington, D.C., claiming that veterans will not have to pay private doctors because the treatment is prohibitively expensive.

Veterans requested the rule change in May 2016. According to the association, the VA has held hearings and prepared several proposed regulations to be used for cost-benefit analysis. The VA has yet to change its policies or provide coverage for these procedures promptly.

Eshler said, “I get phone calls from veterans in such a state of crisis that they are calling us because they can’t handle it any longer and want to commit suicide. ”

The American Civil Liberties Union fought for the right to use taxpayer funds to pay for gender-affirming treatments. This was done to stop discriminatory restrictions imposed by Veterans Affairs regarding gender-affirming treatment provided by VA clinics and covered by VA insurance. The group also argues that “political extremism in Congress is threatening to undo the progress made and defund healthcare for Transgender Veterans as well as for hundreds of thousands of transgender people who are covered by federally funded programs such Medicaid or Medicare.”

Republicans introduced legislation prohibiting federal funds from being used for “gender-affirming” surgeries even for veterans.

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