If John decides he’d rather be Joan, he’ll have to do it without the Veterans Administration.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has dropped plans to start covering gender transition surgery for veterans amid concerns about costs.
The proposed rule change that would have allowed the VA to pay for such surgeries was withdrawn from the Fall 2016 Unified Agenda, a biannual publication of proposed regulation changes that was due Monday.
It’s a start.
“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,” the VA said in a statement Monday.
The key phrase there is: When appropriated funding is available.
It’s insanity to foot the bill for such surgery, based on a mental illness, when there are vets dying while waiting on actual medical needs to be met.
Meanwhile, six Democratic lawmakers have put the squeeze on the VA to meet these social justice needs at an accelerated pace.
Rep. Mike Quigley, of Illinois, Mike Honda and Jackie Speier, of California, Raúl Grijalva, of Arizona, Bonnie Watson Coleman, of New Jersey, and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, of D.C. are behind the push to get transgendered vets ahead of the line.
They were informed by the VA on Thursday of the decision.
The VA already covers transition-related care for transgender vets, including hormone replacement therapy and pre- and post-surgical care.
The VA highlighted such care in its Monday statement.
“VA currently provides many services for transgender veterans to include hormone therapy, mental-health care, preoperative evaluation and long-term care following sex reassignment surgery,” it said.
But the department has been barred from covering actual reassignment surgery since 1999.
And that’s already more than enough, as transgenderism is more of a mental and emotional issue than a physical one. It should be treated as such.
The VA would disagree with me, there.
“Increased understanding of both gender dysphoria and surgical techniques in this area has improved significantly and is now widely accepted as medically necessary treatment,” the VA said.
Fear of the incoming Trump administration has LGBT groups super-sensitive about any moves being made in this direction.
“All of our nation’s veterans, regardless of their gender identity, deserve access to the medical care they earned serving our nation,” Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association, said. “This is a deeply disappointing setback in making sure an often medically necessary procedure for transgender veterans is part of that care.
“Moreover, as we face a new incoming administration, we implore fair-minded Americans to stand united in holding our new administration officials accountable by insisting this be fixed. The medical care of all our nation’s heroes, including transgender veterans, must be a priority.”
I’m pretty sure they have nothing to worry about from a Trump administration.
We all should be worried when these situations become the topic that grabs the attention of lawmakers, above the well-being of every other vet.