Democratic lawmakers ask Dept. of Veterans Affairs to cover sex-change surgery

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( – Six Democratic lawmakers have written the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) urging the removal of a rule banning VA coverage of sex-transition surgeries for veterans.

“We write today as members of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus Transgender Equality Task Force to urge the Department of Veterans Affairs to move swiftly to ensure access to medically necessary surgical care for transgender veterans,” said the letter.

“We urge you to move forward with publishing a proposed rule to remove the arbitrary and outdated restriction that prohibits VA from providing medical services to treat gender dysphoria,” the letter states.

“It is our understanding that under current VA regulations, VHA is prohibited from covering transition-related surgeries for transgender veterans, without regard to medical necessity,” it said.

Current VA regulations prohibit the covering of “gender alterations.” The letter says that regulation is in violation of The Affordable Care Act.

“As you know, the existing regulation was adopted in 1999 and is not required by any statute. This exclusion denies transgender veterans critically important medical care currently available to VA employees, Medicare beneficiaries, and, most recently, active duty military service members.”

The letter, dated Sept. 12, is signed by Reps. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Mike Honda (Calif.), Jackie Speier (Calif.), Raul Grijalva (Ariz.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.), and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.).

“Your attention to the issue is especially urgent given the Obama Administration’s forward thinking policy changes to lift policies that discriminate against LGBT people across the federal government,” the letter says.

— Written by Eric Scheiner