Transgender Veterans Sue VA For Not Providing Free Sex Change Operations, Hormones

Transgender Army veteran Tanya Walker speaks to protesters in Times Square near a military recruitment center. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
11:00 AM – Monday, January 29, 2024

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was sued late last week by the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA), which is requesting that the VA give gender dysphoric veterans access to “gender-affirming medical care” covered financially by the VA.


The complaint, which was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, was first delivered to the VA on Transgender Day of Remembrance in November 2023, following many months of demand letters. To prevent legal action, TAVA required in the letter that the VA either approve or reject the order within 30 days.

“Three years ago today, President Biden repealed the military’s ban on transgender service members. Yes, when we return from service, we do not receive the same level of healthcare from the VA that other veterans do,” said Rebekka Eshler, the president of TAVA, in a press release. “The natural step toward transgender people’s true inclusion in the military is for the VA to remedy this gap. Transgender veterans have waited far too long for the VA to provide the gender-affirming surgery so many of us need to survive.”

“Gender-affirming surgery is a necessary step in living a desired gender role,” according to TAVA’s lawsuit. The spokesperson went on to claim that sex-change operations and hormones have been linked to a decrease in suicidal ideation, depression, and psychological discomfort for gender dysphoric people.

“[The] VA’s failure to provide gender-affirming surgey has been dangerous for me more than my time in the service. Without VA coverage for this surgery, I was finanicially out of options. I tried to perform my own gender-affirming surgery at home, without any medical training,” said Natalie Kastner, a TAVA member. “Were it not for the emergency room care, I would have lost my life. I was told that the VA would take care of me because I was willing to risk my life for this country. Instead, I was safer in the service than I am now.”

Kastner was describing an incident in which he took a pair of scissors and attempted to cut off his own genitalia in order to feel more like a woman.

The Administrative Procedure Act mandates that agencies react to any items submitted to them within a reasonable period, and TAVA claims that the nearly eight-year wait in the agency’s response to their rulemaking petition violates this requirement. In its petition, TAVA requests that the court order the VA to respond to its request in writing and to oblige the VA to respond to the request within a reasonable time frame.

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