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U.S. transgender veterans undergo gender confirmation surgery for the first time

The U.S. government has announced that it will offer gender confirmation surgery to transgender veterans through Medicare for the first time.

Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough announced the change at a Pride event in Florida.

He said it will allow veterans to go through the process “with the help of the VA”.

Previously, hormone therapy and psychological services were covered, but not surgery.

Gender reassignment surgery, also known as sex reassignment surgery, is a series of procedures that change a person’s anatomy to match their gender identity.

Mr. McDonough made the announcement in Orlando on Saturday. It was five years ago this month that a gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub, killing 49 people.

He said the VA would work to overcome a “dark history” of discrimination against transgender veterans. A representative said the two-year process to cover the operation would begin this summer.

“This time will allow veterans to develop the capacity to meet the long-demanded and deserved surgical needs of transgender veterans,” McDonough said that I am proud to begin the process of providing this service.

He added that VA clinicians recommended changing the policy, saying the decision “has very real implications for physical health care, as well as significant implications for mental health.”

The VA provides a range of health benefits to those who qualify, including routine care, hospital services such as kidney dialysis, surgery and organ transplants, and emergency care. However, some services are not cover, such as abortion and cosmetic surgery.

The National Center for Transgender Equality cites a widely used estimate that there are more than 134,000 transgender veterans in the United States and about 15,000 transgender people currently serving in the US military, but a 2016 US Department of Defense study puts the numbers lower.

Former President Donald Trump banned transgender Americans from serving in the military during his first year in office. President Joe Biden lifted the ban in January.

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