Did You Know
- Over 134,000 U.S. Veterans are estimated to be transgender and, before the transgender military ban was lifted in 2021, there were over 15,000 transgender people serving in the U.S. military
- Transgender people are at least two to three times more likely to have served in the U.S. military; motivated by patriotism, life direction, and family history of service, transgender people may have also joined the military to escape family rejection or violence.
- In 2017, it was estimated that more than 5,000 Veterans were receiving transition-related care in the VA healthcare system though this number is likely lower than the actual number as not all transgender Veterans meet criteria for diagnosis and may have chosen not to discloser their gender identity to their providers.
TDOV and Transgender Veterans
Today is the International Day of Transgender Visibility (TDOV) and is a time for nations across the world to celebrate the accomplishments of transgender people, raise awareness of the issues transgender people face, and advocate for the transgender community.
For transgender Veterans, being visible may not be an issue when it comes to the community; however, when it comes to engaging the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for health care, visibility may not be so easy to obtain.
For one, though the VA is inclusive of LGBT Veterans, coming out to an individual’s provider may not be so easy. This may be because the Veteran feels the provider is not going to be receptive to their disclosure or some other reason. For another, coming out to one’s provider outside the VA may be somewhat easier than within because healthcare tends to evolve faster in communities than within the VA, a government-run healthcare system.
TDOV could serve as a reminder to transgender Veterans as to the importance of coming out to a healthcare provider, VA or not, because doing so will give the provider a better understanding in providing care.
The VA acknowledges that the transgender Veteran population has higher prevalence of depression, anxiety, PTSD, tobacco use, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), high blood pressure, and heart and kidney disease. Coming out to a provider will give them the opportunity to learn and provide appropriate care. As Veterans, we know that the government won’t do anything unless we say something; it’s so much more applicable with the VA.
That said, if you are a transgender Veteran, and are anxious about coming out to your VA provider, check out these resources:
- Coming Out to Your Health Care Provider
- VA Health Care for Transgender Men
- VA Health Care for Transgender Women
- VHA Directive 1341: Providing Health Care for Transgender and Intersex Veterans
If after viewing these resources and you still have questions on how the VA can provide appropriate care, check out the VA’s Patient Care Services page for LGBT Veterans. You can also look up your nearest VA facility’s LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator (VCC) here.
It being TDOV, take a moment to thank the transgender+ Veteran in your life for their service and for representing the transgender community. Of course, transgender visibility isn’t confined to just one day, transgender visibility is something to strive for every single day because each one of you matters.