The Department of Veterans Affairs has had more than its share of operational and public relations problems.
It is now proposing a rule change to begin covering sex reassignment surgeries and related medical treatment for transgender veterans.
A new proposed rule, entitled “Removing Gender Alterations Restriction from the Medical Benefits Package” notes that a new rule proposes to remove a restriction in Department of Veterans Affairs regulation that prohibits the VA from providing medical services that are considered gender alterations.
According to Time, Jillian Shiperd, a co-director of the VA’s LGBT health care program, noted that when the ban on transgender surgery was instituted: “At that time some of these surgical procedures were not as well developed as they are now. The science about what the international standards of care are was very different from where we are today.”
The proposal to end the ban at the Veterans Administration will probably be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget. If approved, the rule will go through the agency’s rule-making process and the agency will seek public comment on the matter.
According to the new rule proposed by the VA:
“[R]ecent medical research shows that gender dysphoria is a serious condition that has had severe medical consequences for certain patients if transition-related surgeries and procedures are not provided. In light of these medical advances and recent research, VA would revise its regulation to remove the prohibition on medical services that are considered gender alterations. In this way, medical decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis about what procedures are medically necessary to treat gender dysphoria.”
The action by the Department of Veterans Affairs coincides with recent actions by the Obama administration to remove restrictions regarding transgendered people including bathroom access by students to use locker rooms and bathrooms of their chosen gender identity regardless of their sex when they were born.
It is not clear how this action will impact problems with the VA providing access to doctors for veterans who are on long waiting lists or if it will have any impact on the long waiting lists. Presumably, the action is unrelated to the other problems plaguing the agency in recent months. Action on the rule is unlikely to be undertaken until some time after the upcoming elections in November, and it is also unclear how the results of that election would impact decisions by the VA on this issue.
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