Gender reassignment surgery is a possibility at VA

Jonathan Kaupanger
August 01, 2018 - 1:36 pm



Veterans Affairs may soon add gender reassignment surgery to the medical benefits package.  Currently, the surgery, along with six other health care services is on VA’s exclusions list.

Currently, the agency cannot provide the following services for veterans:

  • Abortions and abortion counseling - in all cases including rape, incest and life endangerment of the mother
  • Cosmetic surgery - except when medically necessary
  • Health club or spa memberships 
  • Drugs that aren’t approved by the FDA 
  • Veterans who are patients or inmates of other government agencies
  • In-vitro fertilization - but Congress appropriated funds making this service possible
  • Gender alteration 

VA's policy is to provide care to all transgender veterans in the way that is consistent with their self-identified gender identity.  The agency already provides all pre- and post-operative care, including hormone therapy, voice therapy, regular primary care and electrolysis.  But surgery is not approved.

VA doesn’t pay for any type of cosmetic surgery.  However, after surgery from an outside source, VA will coordinate home health aides and services.  Any person who’s exploring their gender identity also has full access to all mental health services and all social work services that the VA provides.  This change would allow gender reassignment surgery to be done by VA.

An open request for comments on this proposed rule change is currently on the Federal Register.  You may add comments to the Exclusion of Gender Alterations from the Medical Benefits Package proposal until September 7.

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