Policy Clarified for Vets Changing Gender Markers

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com March 05 2012 9:30 PM ET

Transgender veterans will now be able to change the gender marker on their medical records by simply providing a physician’s letter confirming gender reassignment, according to a clarification of a Veterans Health Administration policy.

The VHA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, issued a directive last year on providing respectful and appropriate care to transgender veterans, but it was not clear about the documentation needed for changing the gender marker, notes the National Center for Transgender Equality’s blog. The requirement for “official documentation ... was initially interpreted incorrectly by some staff and facilities to require proof of sex reassignment surgery,” the center reports.

Now, with the clarification, “a vet must simply provide a letter from a physician certifying that the vet has changed genders and has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition,” according to the blog. “To be clear, the physician’s letter does not need to certify that some specific surgery or any particular medical procedure has been completed — only appropriate clinical care for the individual veteran as determined by the physician.”

This is similar to documentation now required by the U.S. State Department for changing gender markers on passports and by some states for doing so on driver’s licenses. The center is preparing “a user-friendly guide” to the policy and will release it in a few weeks.