Though the military does not allow people who are transgender to serve, many veterans come out as transgender and transition after they have completed their terms of duty. A new directive today from the Veterans Health Administration stipulates that all transgender and intersex veterans are entitled to the same level of care “without discrimination” as other veterans, consistent across all VA healthcare facilities (PDF):
Transgender patients and intersex individuals are provided all care included in VA’s medical benefits package, including, but not limited to: hormonal therapy, mental health care, preoperative evaluation, and medically necessary post-operative and long-term care following sex reassignment surgery to the extent that the appropriate health care professional determines that the care is needed to promote, preserve, or restore the health of the individual and is in accord with generally-accepted standards of medical practice.
The directive does not create any new benefits for transgender veterans; it simply guarantees that veterans can rely on the VA for the benefits they’ve earned without fear of discrimination or concern that other VA locations will not provide the same level of care. It also ensures that they are treated with respect and that all their personal information is kept confidential and consistent with their identity.
Consistent with policy, the VA will not provide or fund sex reassignment surgery. Still, transgender vets can now better depend on the VA for their physical and mental health needs just as all veterans should be able to.