‘Can Save Lives’: Veterans Affairs Secretary Announces Resumption Of Gender Reassignment Surgeries’ Coverage For Vets

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Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Dennis McDonough announced Sunday the start of a two-year process that would expand access to care for transgender veterans.

The department’s new policy envisions resuming the coverage of sex reassignment surgeries for veterans. It will help overcome a “dark history” of discrimination, McDonough said Saturday at a Pride Month event in Orlando, according to The Washington Post.

The announcement of the two-year plan follows President Joe Biden’s Jan. 25 executive order that both revoked former President Donald Trump’s ban on recruitment of transgender people into the military, and reversed a 2013 regulation that prohibited the VA department from funding or performing sex reassignment surgeries.

“This time [two years] 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,” McDonough said, according to The Washington Post.

“We’re making these changes not only because they are the right thing to do but because they can save lives,” the VA secretary stated at the event marking the fifth anniversary of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub that resulted in 49 deaths. (RELATED: Pentagon Set To Roll Out Policy That Provides The Military With Access To Gender Transition Treatments)

The National Center for Transgender Equality estimated that there were about 134,000 transgender veterans, only 4,000 of whom are interested in undergoing a sex reassignment surgery, according to The Washington Post.

The Department of Defense previously claimed it spent $8 million on transgender care from 2016 to 2019.  The annual health care budget for the military is more than $50 billion, according to The Associated Press.