Sen. Franken urges equitable health care for transgender veterans



In a late-September letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Sen. Al Franken and nine Democratic U.S. Senators — and one independent — called for equitable health care for transgender veterans. The letter acknowledged that the VA had taken steps to improve access to care for transgender veterans, but called on the VA to “move swiftly” to ensure all transition-related health care is covered.

“Our veterans, through proud service and sacrifice for their country, have earned our respect, admiration and every one of the benefits provided to them through the Department [of Veterans Affairs],” the letter stated. “They all deserve access to medically necessary care through the VA and it is imperative that you act swiftly to remove the outdated and unjustified exclusion that denies many transgender veterans the treatment that they need.”

Currently, the VA will not allow transgender veterans access to gender affirming surgery through the VA. The letter notes that current policy “denies transgender veterans critically important care currently available to VA civilian employees, Medicare beneficiaries and active duty service members.”

Franken was joined by Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Patty Murray of Washington, Barbara Boxer of California, Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Dick Durban of Illinois, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Here’s the full letter:

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Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.


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