VA abandons plan to allow gender confirmation surgery for veterans

A proposed rule change from the Department of Veterans Affairs allowing veterans to have sex reassignment surgery has been dropped due to funding concerns.

“VA has been and will continue to explore a regulatory change that would allow VA to perform gender alteration surgery and a change in the medical benefits package, when appropriated funding is available,” they said in a statement to “Therefore, this regulation will be withdrawn from the Fall 2016 Unified Agenda.”

The Unified Agenda was due Monday and did not include the proposed rule change, floated in June of this year, as it did not meet the requirements of an executive order signed by President Obama in 2011 requiring all rule changes to take cost into account.

The fact that it is not being proposed going forward does not mean that there is no longer support for the measure, however, simply that there was no provided plan for how to pay for the operations. With the upcoming hand-off to the upcoming Donald Trump administration, the chance of this rule coming up in future is in jeopardy. Trump has not made public any stance on transgender medical care as it relates to the military and the VA.

The VA currently covers hormone therapy, mental health care, preoperative evaluation and long-term care after a gender confirmation surgery for qualified veterans.

“All of our nation’s veterans, regardless of their gender identity, deserve access to the medical care they earned serving our nation. This is a deeply disappointing setback in making sure an often medically necessary procedure is part of that care,” said Ashley Broadway, president of the American Military Partners Association, which advocates for LGBTQ troops and their families.

“We implore fair-minded Americans to stand united in holding our new administration officials accountable by insisting this be fixed.”

The ban on transgender soldiers serving openly in the military was lifted in June, when it was announced by the Defense Department that it would pay for gender confirmation operations for qualifying individuals.

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