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Quigley pushes for transgender equality at the VA
From a press release
2016-09-13

This article shared 297 times since Tue Sep 13, 2016
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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley ( IL-05 ), Vice-Chair of the Equality Caucus and founding member of the Transgender Equality Task Force, led a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ( VA ) Secretary Robert A. McDonald to urge the VA to move swiftly to ensure access to medically necessary surgical care for transgender veterans.

"We urge you to move forward with publishing a proposed rule to remove the arbitrary and outdated restriction that prohibits VA from providing medical services to treat gender dysphoria," the members wrote. "Your attention to this issue is especially urgent given the Obama Administration's forward thinking policy changes to lift policies that discriminate against LGBT people across the federal government. We've made significant gains, yet more work remains to be done and call on you to continue moving towards VA adoption of the proposed rule to permit surgical care for transgender veterans."

Rep. Quigley was joined by the following members in the letter to Secretary McDonald: Reps. Mike Honda ( CA-17 ), Jackie Speier ( CA-14 ), Raul M. Grijalva ( AZ-03 ), Bonnie Watson Coleman ( NJ-12 ), and Eleanor Holmes Norton ( DC-At-large ).

"Transgender veterans served our country, and it is unconscionable to have a special rule just to deny them care based on outdated prejudices. It flies in the face of medical science, it's contrary to what our military is doing, it doesn't save money, and it is illegal discrimination," said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality ( NCTE ). "We applaud the members of Congress who are speaking up for their veteran constituents."

Under current VA regulations, Veterans Health Administration ( VHA ) is prohibited from covering transition-related surgeries for transgender veterans, without regard to medical necessity. This rule runs counter to steps being taken by U.S. Office of Personnel Management ( OPM ), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ( HHS )/ Office for Civil Rights ( OCR ), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ( CMS ), and U.S. Department of Defense ( DOD ) to eliminate blanket exclusions for surgical care for the treatment of gender dysphoria. The experience of states and employers, and a significant body of research, demonstrates that providing surgical care for gender dysphoria based on individual medical necessity has extremely little to no net cost to taxpayers. It also potentially provides long-term savings to the government as a result of preventing future medical and mental health care costs, such as treatment of suicide attempts.

View the letter in its entirety at the link: quigley.house.gov/sites/quigley.house.gov/files/FINAL%20VA%20Transgender%20Letter%20.pdf ..

Since his election to Congress in 2009, Rep. Quigley has been a tireless advocate for the LGBT community. At the start of the 114th Congress, Rep. Quigley was named a Vice-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. He has hosted numerous Equality Caucus briefings around the "economics of equality," whichexplore economic equality in the LGBT community and how Congress can better address this critical issue. In January 2015, he became an original cosponsor of theInternational Human Rights Defense Act. Previously, he called on Illinois state legislators to pass marriage equality and celebrated when that day came. He is a co-sponsor of the original Respect for Marriage Act of 2009, and has lent his support to the national NOH8 Campaign, a global visual art protest against legislation banning gay marriage. Prior to the Supreme Court overturning the Defense of Marriage Act ( DOMA ) in 2013, Rep. Quigley was a critical opponent of the law and hosted a DOMA field forum to investigate the negative impacts of the law on individuals and families in Chicago. In the fall of 2009, Rep. Quigley was inducted into theChicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame for his work as a Cook County Commissioner to extend benefits to LGBT employees.

The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus was established in the U.S. House of Representatives in June 2008 by Co-Chairs Tammy Baldwin ( D-WI ) and Barney Frank ( D-MA ), along with Members of Congress who were strongly committed to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBT people in the United States and around the world. The Caucus serves as a resource for Members of Congress and their staff and works toward the extension of equal rights, the repeal of discriminatory laws, the elimination of hate-motivated violence, and the improved health and well-being for all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.


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