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Biden Admin Allows Transgender and Non-Binary Veterans to Self-Identify On Medical Records

Biden Admin Allows Transgender and Non-Binary Veterans to Self-Identify On Medical Records

The Biden administration has made several moves to protect the rights and dignity of transgender and non-binary veterans as well as active members of the military who identify as non-binary and transgender. In a major step forward, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is now expanding the self-identification of gender identity on medical records to include transgender and non-binary as additional options to choose when filling out their forms.

On Wednesday, the VA announced that gender selections on paperwork will include the options of transgender female, transgender male, non-binary, and Other. Patients can also indicate a preferred name to be used on their medical records. The change allows healthcare providers to better understand and meet the medical needs of their patients, the VA said. The information also could help providers identify any stigma or discrimination that a veteran has faced that might be affecting their health.

 

 

Before President Joe Biden even took office, he appointed transgender veteran Shawn Skelly to his transition team, and in January, President Biden overturned the Trump-era transgender military ban. In April, the President also appointed Skelly to be Assistant Secretary of Readiness in the Department of Defense.

“All veterans, all people, have a basic right to be identified as they define themselves,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement. “This is essential for their general well-being and overall health. Knowing the gender identity of transgender and gender-diverse veterans helps us better serve them.”

Shortly after taking the helm of the VA in February, McDonough vowed to focus on inclusivity, diversity, and equity during his tenure as secretary. One of McDonough’s first actions was to initiate an agency-wide review of the department’s policies to determine how to make it a more welcoming place for LGBTQ patients and employees. And while McDonough’s moves have been applauded by trans veterans and activists, some are growing frustrated with their slow implementation. In June, for example, he announced that the VA would begin covering gender confirmation surgery, but due to drawn-out bureaucracy and other delays, it could be two years before that actually happens.

“That decision will carry out now over many, many months, but at the end of the day this is in the President’s authority to do,” McDonough said. “He’s made clear it’s time to do it and that’s precisely what we’ll do.”

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