By Valerie Ploumpis, National Policy Director
When the Veterans Administration (VA) solicited public comments about whether the VA should continue to discriminate against transgender veterans who need transition-related care, Equality California’s office in Washington, DC was quick to respond with a letter.
For decades, VA medical benefits have not included gender transition surgery (which it calls “gender alterations”) to veterans with gender dysphoria, and did so most recently in 2016 – even though the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Nursing, the American College of Physicians, the American Medical Student Association, and the American Nurses Association concur that that proper treatment of gender dysphoria, as determined between a patient and physician on a case-by-case basis, can include surgical treatment.
The VA’s ban on surgical coverage either forces veterans to pay for their surgery out-of-pocket or to go without treatment which can lead to profound depression, dysfunction, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts and death. Equality California believes that veterans have made profound sacrifices for their country and deserve better; the Veterans Administration has a moral and legal obligation to provide medical care to every eligible veteran who needs it.