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In a significant change of policy, the U. S. Dept. of Veteran Affairs has reached the decision to offer health care coverage for gender affirmation surgery which would include both top surgery and bottom surgery. However, before this can be implemented, a formal rules change process needs to take place that will also include a period of public comment. It is thought that it may take around two years before this new policy can be fully implemented.

The VA (Veterans’ Administration) estimates that there are around 4,000 LGBTQ+ veterans who may be interested in pursuing this surgery. On the other hand, the National Center for Transgender Equality asserts that this number may be closer to 134,000 with around an additional 15,000 who are actively serving. Regardless of the specific numbers, it is known LGBTQ+ veterans have a far higher rate of mental illness and suicidal thoughts as compared to other veterans and the general population. By providing insurance coverage for gender affirmation surgery, with their well-known benefits, it was felt that this was the right thing to do. Such a move can lead to both an improved quality of life as well as save lives of those LGBTQ+ individuals who are actively serving or who are veterans.

Presently, all VAs provide hormonal therapy, mental healthcare, preoperative evaluations and long-term post-op care for transgender veterans. In addition, these facilities have a local LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator whose responsibility is to assist LGBTQ+ veterans and active duty personnel who are interested in the available services.

Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D. P.C.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona

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