SAN FRANCISCO – The Veterans Health Administration has informed its hospitals and clinics that transgender veterans are eligible for hormones, care before and after gender change surgery, and mental health counseling as part of their regular benefits.
In a directive issued Thursday, the VA reiterated that its facilities are not permitted to perform genital or breast surgeries on veterans in the process of changing genders.
But the agency confirmed that transgender patients are entitled to routine health care that takes their special needs into account and to transgender-specific treatments such as hormone therapy and “non-surgical, supportive care for complications of sex-reassignment surgery.”
In accordance with what it termed “the respectful delivery of health care,” the VA also instructed medical personnel at its centers to refer to transgender veterans in conversation and on medical records by the gender pronoun they prefer, regardless of whether they have undergone surgery.
Transgender activists have been pressuring the VA for years to make such a statement. They maintain care of transgender veterans varies too much from facility to facility, with some easily accessing the full range of care and others being denied all services.
“It doesn’t create anything new. It just says to treat these veterans like you treat all veterans, but for trans vets that’s really huge,” National Center for Transgender Equality executive director Mara Keisling said.
The VA quietly posted the directive on a section of its website reserved for new directives, but has not commented on it.