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Clinic for Transgender Veterans Opening in Tucson, AZ

The Tucson Department of Veterans Affairs hospital has expanded its treatment options to lend a hand to transgender veterans seeking treatment, with the statement that the clinic serves all who served. The new transgender clinic is initially opening one day a month with services specifically aimed at transgender veterans. Services provided include medical care, social work services and mental health services.

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In the past, active duty members of the military had to leave service if they came out as transgender, and the VA didn’t cover any of their specific medical needs. Discrimination was common, most VA employees hadn’t been trained in how to serve transgender patients, and many didn't feel comfortable treating them.

However, in 2011, the VA changed its policies, directing all VA hospitals to care for transgender vets. The Tucson clinic began offering services at that time and has amped up its treatment options by becoming one of the few VA hospitals in the country to establish a dedicated clinic for transgender vets. The clinic offers hormone treatment, peer support and psychiatric care. Initially, the Tucson VA was treating about 50 transgender vets, but as of the opening of the new clinic in 2015, it had 130 transgender veterans under its care. The health care providers in the new clinic specialize in transgender care, so the difficulties some transgender vets may have experienced should stay in the past.

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All this is part of the changes that began when President Obama got rid of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policies regarding gays and lesbians in military service. While transgender people are still not allowed to serve openly, a working group was established in 2015 to begin the process of transitioning transgender people into the military. All this is good news for transgender vets, many of whom have a long history of seeking help at their local VA clinics and being denied care.

Transgender vets in the Tucson area, and also in Cleveland, where another transgender VA clinic has opened, welcome the opportunity to receive specialized care. However, many other vets are still plagued by long waits for treatment at VA hospitals across the country. Sign here to send a message to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs regarding long wait times at VA hospitals.

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