VA plans to offer gender-affirming surgeries

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is planning to offer gender-affirming surgeries to transgender veterans, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said June 19, according to The New York Times.

"This process will require changing VA's regulations and establishing policy that will ensure the equitable treatment and safety of transgender veterans," Mr. McDonough said at a Pride event in Orlando, Fla.

The VA plans to start the two-year process this summer, a VA spokesperson told The Washington Post.

There are an estimated 134,000 transgender veterans in the U.S., according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. Internal estimates suggest fewer than 4,000 veterans would be interested in undergoing a gender-affirming surgery, a VA official told the Times.

Gender-affirming surgeries entail reconstructing sexual organs to match the gender the patient identifies with. Once likened to cosmetic surgereies, the procedures are now seen as an effective treatment for serious health issues like excessive substance use and suicide, the official said. 

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