The Veterans Health Administration has issued a renewed and updated directive on providing health care for transgender veterans and veterans with intersex conditions. VHA originally issued this directive in June 2011, and like other VHA directives it carried a technical expiration date, and was intended to be updated or included in other, permanent VHA policy documents in the future. While the expiration date passed in late 2012, actual VA policy never changed, and the new directive is effective for at least the next five years.
The renewed VHA directive is essentially identical to the 2011 version, but is accompanied by an official FAQ document that provides helpful clarification on patients’ rights to be treated according to their gender identity for purposes of pronouns, restroom access, and room placements, as well as on how to update gender markers in VHA patient records. There is also additional guidance for VHA health care providers who may be treating a transgender or intersex patient for the first time.
In addition, the VHA is continuing efforts to provide training and consultation to its health care providers on working with transgender people and those with intersex conditions, whether to provide routine preventive screenings, gender affirming care, or other treatment.
As positive and helpful as this directive is, unfortunately, the Veterans Administration retains an outdated and unscientific regulation that prohibits the agency from providing transition-related surgeries, and the agency also maintains the position that electrolysis for any purpose is cosmetic and will not be covered. These policies are contrary to established clinical guidelines, and need to change. Nevertheless, the Veterans Administration has taken significant steps to improve care for transgender veterans, and those with intersex conditions, and NCTE will continue to work with the Administration to improve care for all veterans.
Read the full text of the directive here.