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The VA Is Moving To Provide Vets With Gender Confirmation Surgery.
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The VA Is Moving To Provide Vets With Gender Confirmation Surgery.


WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Secretary Denis McDonough announced Saturday at a Pride Month event in Orlando that the Department of Veterans Affairs will begin offering gender confirmation surgery to transgender veterans.

McDonough said in prepared remarks that the move was “the right thing to do,” and that it was part of an effort to overcome a “dark history” of discrimination against LGBTQ service members. The move is only the first step in what will most likely be a years-long federal rulemaking process to expand VA health benefits to cover the surgery, but McDonough said the VA will use the time to “develop capacity.”

According to McDonough, the decision will allow "transgender vets to go through the full gender confirmation process with VA by their side." He also mentioned higher rates of mental illness and suicidal thoughts among LGBTQ veterans, as well as a fear of discrimination that prevents those veterans from seeking care.

“We’re making these changes not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it has the potential to save lives,” he explained.

McDonough stated that the decision was made based on the “recommendation of our clinicians, so this is a health care decision with very real physical health care implications as well as significant mental health implications.”

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, there are over 134,000 transgender veterans and over 15,000 transgender individuals currently serving in the military.

McDonough's announcement is the latest in a series of steps taken by the Biden administration to strengthen protections and benefits for transgender service members.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order just days into his presidency overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender people serving in the military, and McDonough ordered a review of the department's policies in February to "ensure that transgender Veterans and employees do not face discrimination on the basis of their gender identity and expression."

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