Friday, May 20, 2016

Still No Real Movement at the VA

From The Advocate and Autumn Sandeen:
It will likely take a lawsuit  to end the Veterans Affairs policy of denying coverage for gender-confirmation surgery — a procedure currently covered by Medicare. 
Here is an excerpt: "A lawsuit was filed recently that made little news, lost to the headlines of HB 2 and the Department of Education telling America's 13,000-plus school districts that they must accommodate transgender students in accordance with Title IX. This little-heard-of lawsuit was filed by the Transgender Law Center and Lambda Legal, with co-counsel WilmerHale, and in it they've petitioned the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to change the rule that categorically excludes transition-related surgery for transgender veterans.
For a bit of background, in June of 2011, many of us transgender veterans were pretty excited when the VA announced a standardized policy of respectful and affirming delivery of health care for transgender and intersex veterans. The policy required equal access to affirmative basic health care for transgender veterans across every VA facility — which surprisingly wasn't uniform across the country — and that all medically necessary health care for transgender veterans was and still is to be provided by the VA.
Well, almost all medically necessary health care. Under existing VA regulations, transition-related surgeries — also referred to as gender-affirmation surgeries — aren't performed by or paid for by the VA. In fact, VHA Directive 2013-003 (Providing Health Care For Transgender And Intersex Veterans) states under line item 2.b. "[The] VA does not provide sex reassignment surgery or plastic reconstructive surgery for strictly cosmetic purposes."
Being a transgender veteran myself, I'm not holding my breath waiting for change, but who knows?

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A Life in Gender Flux