Veterans Administration Makes Important Clarification on Records Policy

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Building on the June 2011 Directive on the treatment of transgender veterans, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has announced a clarification to its records policy that will make significant difference in the lives of trans veterans. Since the Directive has gone into effect, we have received positive reports from trans veterans about receiving more respectful health care. However, one area that the Directive left somewhat unclear was the documentation that was required for veterans to change the gender marker on their health records.

The Directive was very clear that medical records will now reflect an individual’s self-identified gender.  However, the policy also indicated that the individual must provide official documentation as per Veterans Health Administration policies in order to change the gender marker. This was initially interpreted incorrectly by some staff and facilities to require proof of sex reassignment surgery.

The VA has now clarified that this policy is intended to mirror the State Department passport policy. Effective immediately, to change the gender on VHA medical records, a vet must simply provide a letter from a physician certifying that the vet has changed genders and has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition. To be clear, the physician’s letter does not need to certify that some specific surgery or any particular medical procedure has been completed—only appropriate clinical care for the individual veteran as determined by the physician.

This clarification is another important step forward for trans veterans. At NCTE we’ve been very pleased to provide education and advocacy to the VA, which continues to be very interested in ensuring that transgender vets are treated equally. We’re confident that the VA will continue to move forward and are excited about some great upcoming programs the VA is planning to provide cultural competency training to clinical and administrative staff across the country.

In the coming weeks, NCTE will release a user-friendly guide to changing your VA health records. Until then, we urge trans vets to read our resources about the June 2011 VHA Directive and the passport policy and speak with a patient advocate or Social Worker at your VA facility if you have questions.

VHA Directive: http://transequality.org/PDFs/VHA_Trans_Health.pdf

Passport gender change policy: http://transequality.org/Resources/passports_2012.pdf

If you have difficulties changing you records at your local VA or have trouble accessing respectful healthcare, please contact NCTE immediately at NCTE@transequality.org or 202-903-0112.

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12 Responses to Veterans Administration Makes Important Clarification on Records Policy

  1. Roberta says:

    HEEE HAWWW Finally some one has gotten it right.

  2. Cynthia DeVille says:

    This is wonderful news. The funny thing is that one of the clerks at the VA here had already changed my gender to female in the system so that i would quit getting letters that had the prefix Mr. on them. Very excited about this development.

  3. JoAnna Lorenzini says:

    that sounds great, but there is one problem,,, the VA here in Denver Colorado has not fallowed this … I am still waiting for them to catch up to the policy’s that are just a year old. I have asked to have my name changed and my gender marker changed for about 2 yrs. and the are saying that i need to have the srs. or grs then they will change everything. .. But we have to remember this one thing that is very true,, IT’S THE GOVERNMENT SO WE NEED TO WAIT ON THEM. just like when we were all active. hurry and wait. But how long do we have to wait……………

  4. Mackenzie says:

    Lol… if you think that’s bad, just try changing your name there as an employee. It took seeing about a dozen different people and yet another background investigation just for a name change. That’s my third background check in a year. But I can’t say anything negative about the VA as an employer. They’ve been wonderful to me so far as a Trans employee. Just a lot of procedures to change things I guess…

  5. [...] needed for changing the gender marker, notes the National Center for Transgender Equality’s blog. The requirement for “official documentation … was initially interpreted incorrectly by some [...]

  6. [...] Veterans Administration Makes Important Clarification on Records Policy National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), March 2012 Building on the June 2011 Directive on [...]

  7. [...] Veterans Administration Makes Important Clarification on Records … [...]

  8. I’m active duty and a trans woman.

    I’m hoping that eventually, we will be allowed to have HRT while serving in an active duty status. I’ll be out after 6 years in 2013, so I will probably be long gone before its allowed. Still, this is really encouraging for my future outside the service.

  9. [...] needed for changing the gender marker, notes the National Center for Transgender Equality’s blog. The requirement for “official documentation … was initially interpreted incorrectly by [...]

  10. Marie says:

    I attempted to have my gender marker changed shortly after the new VA directive was issued in Jun 2011. It was denied. I then filed an appeal with the Office of General Counsel in DC in December of 2011. I contacted them a few weeks ago to check on the status of the appeal and spoke to a Mrs. XXXXXX she said she would check with the lawyer and call me back. She called me today, 4-18-2012, and informed me that there are several gender maker change cases that the General Counsel is personally handling and my case is one of them. She further stated that the General Counsel is working with an unnamed doctor in order to clarify the policy and make a determination on all of the gender marker change cases. She suggested that I wait one month and call he again.

    The problem I am having with her suggestion and this article is that if the VA came out with a clarification on the gender marker change, as per your article, in March of this year and it was to take effect immediately, then why does the General Counsel still need to correspond with a doctor for clarification of the directive? I would assume that the General Counsel was notified or was possibly involved in creating the clarification, so why can’t he make a determination on my case as well as the other gender maker cases that he is personally handling? I am also curious why the VAMC in Shreveport has not been informed of this new clarification. I have not been able to find any official documents on the internet that clarify the directive so I am unable to show the General Counsel or the VAMC in Shreveport anything that will further support my appeal. I have sent several emails to the NCTE asking for assistance but have not received any response.

    Marie

  11. Veterans Administration Makes Important Clarification on Records
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