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nytimes – VA plans to offer gender-affirming surgeries to transgender veterans

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to offer gender-confirming surgery to transgender veterans, Denis McDonough, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, announced this weekend at a Pride event in Orlando, Florida , as part of a major change in the care available to the old member service.

“This process will require changing VA rules and establishing a policy that will ensure the fair treatment and safety of transgender veterans,” McDonough said at the event on Saturday, noting that the change would take time. But he said the surgical needs of transgender veterans were “long-earned.”

Gender-affirming procedures rebuild the sexual organs to match the sex an individual identifies with and have been shown to alleviate serious health problems such as drug addiction, suicide and suicidal ideation, one said. administration manager, explaining the decision to change the policy. The procedures, which were once considered cosmetic surgery, are now widely regarded as an effective treatment for such problems.

The process of changing health care benefits for transgender veterans could take years, and it is not known how many veterans would seek gender confirmation surgery. The administration official said internal estimates showed fewer than 4,000 ex-combatants would be interested in the care.

There are more than 134,000 transgender veterans, according to an estimate from the National Center for Transgender Equality.

The annual cost of new services would depend on whether they are provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs or by external partners.

“Updating this policy would allow VA to provide transgender and gender-diverse veterans with coordinated, medically necessary, and transition-related surgical procedures,” a department spokesperson said.

President Biden has also sought to restore the civil rights protections for LGBTQ people that were eliminated by President Donald J. Trump. On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order that combats discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

This has led the Department of Health and Human Services to ban providers from discriminating against gay and transgender people and restore protections for transgender people seeking emergency shelter and homeless services. The Trump administration had denied them access to single-sex shelters based on their gender identity.

The policy change at the Veterans Affairs Department is the latest move by the Biden administration to reverse years of discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members of the military. A Trump-era ban on members of transgender services was repealed on Mr. Biden’s fifth day in office.

“The vestiges of bigotry remain,” McDonough said.

He also announced on Saturday that the ministry was changing the name of its LGBTQ health program to LGBTQ + health program, calling it “language that proudly reflects the community’s new standards of inclusion” and anticipates future changes.

“Even something as simple as displaying VA-specific rainbow magnets has proven to make our hospitals more welcoming,” McDonough said, “signaling to LGTBQ + vets that we’re here for them. .

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