Trans Veterans Demand More from the VA

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Those across the U.S. who are transgender make up less than one percent of the population. They most certainly don’t speak for the majority of people. That’s not to say that their opinions on things don’t matter. They do, but – they cannot dictate everything.

Now, when you consider the number of trans veterans in the U.S., it is an even smaller number.

The trans veterans who are out there have joined forces to determine that they aren’t getting enough out of the Veteran Affairs offices. The VA has failed them – or at least that’s what they think.

VA offices around the country are extremely understaffed. They’re dealing with sick and dying veterans because they’ve been exposed to everything from Agent Orange to burn pits. They have cancer, lung diseases, heart diseases, neuropathy, and more.

It’s not that the VA doesn’t care about veterans who have decided that they’ve chosen to identify as another gender – it’s that their issues aren’t as critical as the veterans (regardless of gender identity) who are in need of actual medical attention.

Still, we deserve to hear the trans veterans out. They, too, fought for our country. So, what is it that they want from the VA?

We just celebrated Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31. Yep, that’s an actual holiday. And as part of the celebration for that holiday, there are more transgender people speaking out about some of the long-standing anti-LGBTQ+ policies of the military.

One of the reasons why many are pushing for a more open and accepting culture for the military is because of the statistics on both suicide and sexual trauma.

Lindsay Church wrote a commentary for Military Times. She is the leader of Minority Veterans of America and explained, “Our community has been disproportionately harmed and we carry those wounds with us. Unfortunately, we are also left to face a VA system that too often replicates the same harmful, discriminatory culture we hoped to leave behind and recover from.”

Church points first to what Biden did to help those in the military – he lifted the ban on binary transgender military service, which was put into place by Donald Trump. Many who are part of the LGBTQ+ community applauded Biden for doing this.

What many forget is that Trump put the ban in place so as to make sure that everyone was capable of providing the necessary level of military service – complete with the weight requirements as well as not having medical conditions while being deployed. He reminded people that the U.S. military is not under the same Equal Rights hiring opportunities as other employers. If we’re going to have the best military that we can have, we have to draw the line in one way or another.

Even as Biden lifted the ban, Church comments that there have still been issues – particularly for trans veterans once they get home.

She has a few demands to ensure that the VA can serve the trans veterans community more effectively.

  1.       No harm or harassment can come to women and LGBTQ+ people at a VA facility
  2.       Ensure all facilities have safe restrooms where a person can go without a scene being caused
  3.       Demographic data must be collected to include gender identity and sexual orientation.
  4.       VA must allow the designation of “X” as a gender marker
  5.       VA must acknowledge that transgender healthcare is still a form of healthcare, which includes gender-affirming surgeries.

It’s clear that Church and others have given this a significant amount of thought. And some of what is being fought for are legitimate concerns.

However, it still comes down to the VA not having enough money and support for issues caused by medical service. Gender-affirming surgeries should be seen as cosmetic – unnecessary and certainly not funded by the U.S. government.