Republicans on Capitol Hill are fighting back the announcement that transgender veterans will soon be able to undergo gender transition surgeries thanks to veterans health care (VA) coverage.
VA secretary Denis McDonough announced on Saturday that the department has taken the first step, in what is expected to be a multi-year process, towards providing gender transition surgeries covered by the veteran healthcare network.
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“We’re making these changes not just because they’re the right thing to do, but because they can save lives,” McDonough announced at a Pride event in Orlando.
But while the VA secretary said it was being done to make the department “more welcoming” to all veterans, the move frustrated GOP lawmakers.
“President Biden and Secretary McDonough should be less focused on winning culture wars and more focused on helping veterans suffering from real wars,” the senior veterans committee member told Fox News. House fighters, Representative Mike Bost.
“Congress has been waiting for months for them to come to the table and help us provide care and benefits to toxic-exposed veterans who are sick and dying. We have received no response,” the veteran continued. “Yet somehow they found the time to decide that taxpayers should pay for gender transition surgeries at VA medical facilities.”
The National Center for Transgender Equality estimates that there are more than 134,000 transgender veterans in America today, along with 15,000 other transgender people serving in the ranks.
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Although McDonough said changing VA health rules “will take time,” about 4,000 veterans nationwide would be interested in the gender transition process, the Military Times reported.
It is still unclear what the costs of the surgery for the VA might look like, but Republican Rep. From Montana Matt Rosendale has objected to the use of funds provided to the VA through taxpayer dollars. .
“To advocate for taxpayer funded gender transition surgeries is an absolute disgrace,” Rosendale said in a statement to Fox News. “This is yet another sweeping policy proposition from an administration without caring about the reality of its damaging effects on those with mental illness who have sacrificed themselves for our country.”
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Saturday’s announcement shows a sweeping change from the Trump administration that banned transgender participation in the military and limited surgical options for those already in the military.
Biden overturned the military ban on transgender people days after entering the White House.
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