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Transgender Veterans Launch Second Lawsuit Against VA for Denying Gender-Affirming Surgery Coverage

Transgender American Veterans Association (Credits: Transgender American Veterans Association)

The Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) has initiated legal action against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for not including gender-affirming surgeries in the health benefits provided to transgender veterans.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., challenges the VA’s decision to deny a 2016 petition that requested the inclusion of these surgeries in VA healthcare benefits.

The Transgender American Veterans Association (Credits:

Currently, while the VA covers other gender-affirming treatments such as hormone therapy and hair removal, it has explicitly excluded gender-affirming surgeries since a 2013 directive that stated the VA does not provide such surgeries.

VA Secretary Denis McDonough indicated in 2021 that there were plans to modify this policy to include surgical treatments; however, he noted that such changes would require time to implement.

The lawsuit by TAVA argues that the VA’s current policy is at odds with the medical consensus on the necessity of these surgeries for many transgender individuals and constitutes discrimination based on sex and transgender status.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (Credits: Brown University)

TAVA’s legal action seeks a judicial review of the VA’s refusal and aims to compel the VA to start providing gender-affirming surgeries, asserting that these are often essential for the health and dignity of transgender veterans.

In response to the VA’s denial of their 2016 petition, TAVA has also filed a separate lawsuit earlier in January to compel the VA to address their requests, which the VA formally denied in February.

The VA has not commented on the ongoing litigation. TAVA’s leadership continues to express strong disapproval of the VA’s stance, emphasizing that access to comprehensive healthcare is a right for all veterans, regardless of gender identity.

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