The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced plans to cover transgender veterans’ gender-affirming surgery under the department’s health insurance.
According to CNN, Denis McDonough, the department’s secretary, made the announcement at a Pride event at the Orlando Vet Center in Florida over the weekend
“We are taking the first necessary steps to expand VA’s care to include gender confirmation surgery—thereby allowing transgender vets to go through the full gender confirmation process with VA at their side,” McDonough said on Saturday. “This process will require changing V.A.’s regulations and establishing policy that will ensure the equitable treatment and safety of transgender veterans.”
The change, he continued, has been “deserved for a long time.”
Previously, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ insurance covered mental health services and hormone therapy, but excluded surgery, an omission that made it difficult if not impossible for many trans veterans to access this care.
The shift follows the Biden administration’s decision in March to roll back the Trump-era ban on trans people serving in the military, a policy that denied trans troops any form of medical care related to gender transition and forced them to officially identify as the gender they were assigned at birth. When the Pentagon announced the repeal of the ban, Stephanie Miller, the director of military accession policy, noted that the costs of providing trans health care to troops would be relatively low—why, I’m not sure, considering that the Department of Defense has a multi-trillion dollar budget.
These efforts are broadly for the sake of making the military more inclusive for trans people. As my fellow Jez blogger Joan Summers pointed out earlier this year, this is a somewhat deceptive progressive cause, considering the military’s agenda (to kill and imperialize). In this case, however, the policy change benefits trans people who need essential healthcare and deserve to have it covered by their insurance, just like everyone else.