The Department of Veterans Affairs has proposed to a rule to remove the ban on transgender sex change surgery for veterans, which has existed since the 1990s.
According to the proposed regulation, gender reassignment surgery wasn’t previously considered medically necessary for gender dysphoria, a condition transgender individuals claims makes them feel as though they were born in the wrong body and assigned the wrong gender.
But the VA now thinks that unless it provides transition surgery to transgenders, the medical consequences for them will be even worse. Medicare came to a similar conclusion in 2014.
“In light of these medical advances and recent research, VA would revise its regulation to remove the prohibition on medical services that are considered gender alterations,” the proposal stated. “In this way, medical decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis about what procedures are medically necessary to treat gender dysphoria.”
The American Military Partner Association (AMPA) applauded the VA’s regulatory move to remove the “outdated” ban.
“This is incredibly welcome news for so many transgender veterans and their families,” AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “So many veterans rely on the VA for important medical care that they have earned serving our nation, including transgender veterans. Gender confirmation surgery is often a critically important and medically necessary treatment for transgender veterans, and lifting this ban is long overdue.”
Transgender veterans petitioned the VA in May to remove the ban, arguing that the VA already provides hormone replacement therapy — so, stopping short of surgery is arbitrary.
“It’s sort of funny that they’ll provide you all the hormones and everything else to go halfway but they won’t finish the job,” Dee Fulcher, a transgender veteran, told Time Magazine.
Another argument used by transgender veterans is that prohibiting the surgery for transgenders is essentially sex discrimination disallowed by the Civil Right Act. Lawyers representing transgender advocacy groups said that if the VA didn’t reassess the ban, they’d be willing to file suit against the agency.
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