March 31, 2020

VA must improve access to high-quality care for transgender veterans

By Kayla M. Williams

Nearly two years ago, I argued that then-incoming VA Secretary Robert Wilkie should expand care to transgender veterans, removing the exclusion of gender confirmation surgery from VA’s medical benefits package. Today, on Transgender Day of Visibility, I am disappointed to report that not only has there been no progress on that front, but recent research conducted by my team at CNAS has identified other shortcomings in VA’s provision of care to transgender veterans. This is particularly concerning since transgender individuals may serve at higher rates.

The VA's Office of Health Equity website shows that under the LGBT Healthcare Equality Index, developed by the Human Rights Campaign, less than half of VA Medical Centers nationwide were classified as “Leaders,” or “Top Performers,” the two highest designations awarded, as of 2019. This is reinforced by what we heard during interviews with stakeholders and veterans. Transgender veterans described encountering barriers in accessing high-quality health care due to their gender identity, including “dealing with medical providers that aren’t receiving necessary training to properly assess issues that you’re going through and provide unnecessary treatments.”

Read the full article in The Hill.

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