As the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) joins the country in reflecting on our veterans, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling reminds us that more must be done in health and housing programs to adequately serve transgender veterans. The VA must cover all transition-related care to recognizer transgender veterans. In a statement released this morning, Keisling says:
This year, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) made headway in honoring transgender veterans by affirming their medical needs in the VA healthcare system. We celebrated the VA Directive for making clear that transgender patients have the same access and protections in VA health services as all veterans do. But to fully recognize the sacrifices of transgender veterans, the VA must lift the remaining restrictions on covering medically necessary transition-related care.”
The VA Directive released in June of this year made progress in securing equal health access for transgender veterans. The Directive does several things:
- Indicates that all VA staff are to provide care to transgender patients “without discrimination in a manner consistent with care and management of all Veteran patients;”
- Clearly states that all personal information about transgender status and medical care is kept confidential;
- Reiterates that, under existing regulations, sex reassignment surgery cannot be performed or paid for by the VA;
- Reiterates that all other medically necessary healthcare for transgender veterans is covered, including sex-specific care like mammograms and pap smears, as well as transition- related care such as hormones and mental health services.
While the Directive sets the standard for the respectful treatment of transgender patients for public and private healthcare providers, it does not address the existing medical regulations that bar medically necessary transition-related care. Keisling says, “These are hard earned and well-deserved benefits. While NCTE will continue to advocate the VA for these changes, the VA can do the right thing now: honor transgender veterans by covering transition related care.”
Download NCTE’s guide to the Directive here.