Lambda Legal Applauds VA’s Commitment to Provide Lifesaving Health Care for Transgender Veterans

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June 19, 2021
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Today, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough announced his commitment to removing the categorical exclusion of transition-related surgical care from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health plan and to providing comprehensive health care for transgender veterans. Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Sasha Buchert issued the following statement:

“We applaud Secretary McDonough’s commitment to eliminate the VA’s outdated categorical exclusion of transition-related surgical care for transgender veterans. This important update to the VA’s health plan will provide continuity of care for transgender service members and will ensure we don’t turn our backs on transgender veterans who served our country when they need lifesaving medically necessary health care. 

“While we recognize the importance of moving forward methodically, we urge the VA to recognize in this process the needs of transgender veterans who have already waited too long for the health care they deserve.”

From the transcript of his remarks delivered today celebrating Pride, Secretary McDonough stated:

“I am announcing today that we are taking the first necessary steps to expand VA’s care to include gender confirmation surgery – thus allowing transgender Vets to go through the full gender confirmation process with VA by their side.

“Now, this process will require changing VA’s regulations and establishing policy that will ensure the equitable treatment and safety of transgender veterans.

“There are several steps to take, which will take time.

“But we are moving ahead, methodically, because we want this important change in policy to be implemented in a manner that has been thoroughly considered to ensure that the services made available to Veterans meet VA’s rigorous standards for quality health care.

“This time will allow VA to develop capacity to meet the surgical needs that transgender Veterans have called for and deserved for a long time, and I am proud to begin the process of delivering it.”

Lambda Legal has long advocated on the issue before the Veterans Administration and in the courts. Read about our work here.