Scroll To Top

The Government Breaking Promises to LGBT People? You Don't Say


Color Amanda Kerri unsurprised that the VA has scrapped plans to cover gender-confirmation surgery.

One of the odd things about me is that I seem to know about things long after they happen or not know about them at all when I should. For example, I have extensive knowledge of the Batman "Rogues Gallery" when I'm not a comic book reader at all, while at the same time I have very little knowledge about XML coding and I work in IT as my day job. I often joke that my knowledge of the Kardashians, a subject I care nothing about, is in the place in my brain where algebra should be. Most of this is just random useless knowledge replacing other useless knowledge, but sometimes it's things that directly affect my life. For example, I didn't know that the Department of Veterans Affairs was actually going to provide gender-reassignment surgery to veterans. Well, crap. As a veteran and a trans woman, I should have known that. I guess that's what my knowledge of Pokemon was taking the place of.

Fat lot of good it will do me, though; the VA has decided to cancel the program. I mean, it's not a tragedy per se for me since I've never been eager to get the surgery, but it will be for thousands of veterans who are and can't afford the exorbitant costs. Paying for an operation that is probably the most important step in transitioning has always been the biggest hurdle for most to get over. My personal plan has always been to put it on a credit card and then declare bankruptcy. It's not like they can repossess a vagina. They can't do that, can they? Can they? Still, the reason the VA has canceled the benefit is that same old hurdle that trans people have faced. The VA can't pay for it.

It's funny that the department canceled it, because during this election, just like every election, politicians wrapped themselves in flags, lined up veterans in their pin-covered ball caps to sing their praises, promised more money than veterans have gotten before, and talked all about supporting people who decided they loved their country so much they were willing to put their lives on the line for it. Of course we know about what happens after elections for veterans: nothing. So now, as a trans person and a vet, I get doubled down on being told my concerns are not worth the government's time or money. Ah, a feeling like that makes me want to put on "God Bless the USA" and watch Lincoln on repeat until I go into a star-spangled coma.

Strangely, though, I'm not surprised. When you take into consideration that the VA has literally warehouses full of paperwork it still needs to go through, computers that still have dial-up modems in them, and hospitals where the paint is peeling off the walls, it really doesn't shock me. I mean, I knew enough about how bad the VA was when I was getting out of the service that I didn't bother to sign up for benefits at the time, even though getting free health care for life is pretty awesome. I decided that a guy who didn't have legs anymore or couldn't sleep because of his PTSD-related nightmares probably should get first dibs on anything the agency could provide, especially since we were fighting two wars that weren't even being budgeted for.

I guess that's why the news that the VA decided to cancel its attempts to take care of its transgender patients in a way that would be potentially lifesaving doesn't bring me down that badly. It's just more of the same ol', same ol'. We have long talked a lot of good talk about taking care of people in our society but not following through. The guy who laid out a major part of Western morality once said, "That you do unto the least of my brothers, that you do unto me," and they ended up killing him. So when I see the VA throwing its hands up saying, "We can't afford it, sorry," politicians who promised the money replying to the appeals with a "New phone, who dis?" and now a president-elect who's more interested in marketing his golf courses on government websites than actually doing any of the things he promised, I'm not fazed by it one bit. Soldiers learn that in the real world, you can't expect help, and trans people have come to learn we're the ones who get thought of last most of the time. In the end, it really does seem appropriate that this happened. Maybe society and government have Kardashians in the part of their brains where support for veterans and transgender people should be.

AMANDA KERRI is a writer and comedian based in Oklahoma City. Follow her on Twitter @EternalKerri.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Amanda Kerri