Sussex Pride invites individuals and organizations to join us in signing on to this letter asking President Biden to remove the regulatory exclusion on gender affirming surgery from VA’s Health Benefits package.
In the U.S. Armed Forces, transgender people serve at a disproportionate rate when compared to their cis-gender counterparts, making the Department of Veterans Affairs what is believed to be the largest healthcare provider of transgender people in the world. In 2011, VA began providing gender affirming care to veterans with the exception of gender affirming surgery which was barred due to its categorization as strictly cosmetic.
On June 19, 2021, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Denis McDonough, announced that VA would begin taking measures to lift the categorical exclusion and begin providing this care to veterans. Nearly two years later, we are still waiting for that commitment to be fulfilled.
The ban on gender-affirming surgery is not just an equity issue, it is also a safety issue – a reality that the Secretary himself has acknowledged. In his own words, the Department is taking steps to remove the ban “not only because [it is] the right thing to do, but because [it] can save lives.”
This sign-on letter urges Secretary McDonough and President Biden honor the Transgender Day of Visibility by taking action to remove the regulatory exclusion on gender affirming surgery from VA’s Health Benefits package.