In a controversial move, the Department of Veterans Affairs has announced they are planning to offer gender confirmation surgeries to transgender veterans.
The news was announced by Secretary Denis McDonough during a pride event over the weekend.
McDonough stated that the move was intended to overcome a “dark history” of discrimination against LGBTQ troops.
The VA’s decision has sparked mixed reactions. Many veterans are frustrated that the VA is planning to pay for the surgeries while over 35,000 veterans remain homeless.
The decision, he said, will allow “transgender vets to go through the full gender confirmation process with VA by their side.” McDonough also referenced what he said were higher rates of mental illness and suicidal thoughts among LGBTQ veterans, and a fear of discrimination that prevents those veterans from seeking care.
“We’re making these changes not only because they are the right thing to do, but because they can save lives,” he said.via NBC
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It is estimated that there are more than 134,000 transgender U.S. veterans, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.
The VA Health Benefits package currently covers mental health services and hormone therapy, The Hill reports.
The controversy surrounding transgender troops has been a hot topic during the Biden administration.
Back in January, Biden signed an executive order lifting the ban on most transgender people serving in the military.
“President Biden believes gender identity should not be a bar to military service and that America’s strength is found in its diversity,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated. “America is stronger around the world when it is inclusive.”