VA offers gender-specific affirmation surgeries to transgender vets

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WebMD Health

June 21, 2021

The Veterans Administration will offer sex confirmation surgery to transgender veterans, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said Saturday during a Pride Month event in Orlando.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, McDonough said the policy change is right for people who have been persecuted for their sexual orientation. VA clinicians reported that many LGBTQ + veterans suffer from mental health problems because of discrimination, he said.

“For generations, soldiers who identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or related identities have faced bold discrimination or worse – not just in our armed forces but in so many aspects of their lives,” said McDonough.

“This is the dark history we have to overcome in VA and America, and it repeats itself to this day in terrible incidents like the Pulse nightclub shooting that devastated this community five years ago.”

McDonough said it could take several years to expand the VA’s ability to conduct the operations.

“This time will allow VA to develop capacity to meet the surgical needs that transgender veterans have long requested and deserved, and I am proud to begin implementing them,” said McDonough.

VA press secretary Terrence Hayes said the department expected fewer than 4,000 veterans would want the operation, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

A study by the RAND Corp. from 2016 estimated there could be 2,000 to 11,000 transgender troops on active duty, but the real number could vary.

The announcement is a major departure from the current VA policy. In 2013, the VA began offering psychological counseling and prescription hormone therapy to transgender veterans, but refused coverage for gender reassignment surgery.

The announcement comes after President Joe Biden lifted former President Donald Trump’s ban on openly serving transgender people in the U.S. military in January.

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Orlando Sentinel: “VA Takes First Steps to Offer Gender Confirmation Surgery and Lift 2013 Ban, Announces Minister Denis McDonough”

RAND Corp .: “Assessing the Impact of Transgender Personnel Openly Serving”


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