Attorney General Bonta Supports Increased Access to Gender-Affirming Care for Transgender Veterans

Tuesday, January 30, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta joined 19 attorneys general in a multistate amicus brief in support of the Transgender American Veterans Association’s (TAVA) petition for increased access to gender-affirming care for transgender veterans in TAVA v. Veterans Affairs. TAVA’s rulemaking petition seeks to compel the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to amend a regulation excluding medically necessary gender-affirming surgery for transgender veterans from the medical benefits package. In the brief, the coalition stresses the importance of gender-affirming care for the health and well-being of all transgender veterans.

“Sadly, transgender veterans are one of the most underserved groups in our nation’s health care system,” said Attorney General Bonta. “We’re standing up in support of equal access to medical care that empowers all veterans to lead happier and healthier lives. At the California Department of Justice, we will continue to advocate for the health care rights of our most marginalized communities.”

More than 150,000 veterans, active-duty service members, and members of the guard and reserves identify as transgender, and they serve in our armed forces at nearly twice the rate of their cisgender counterparts. The VA currently provides medically necessary gender-affirming care to transgender veterans, with exception of gender-affirming surgical interventions. In 2016, TAVA and two veterans who were denied coverage for medically necessary gender-affirming care filed a formal petition against the VA to compel it to amend or repeal a longstanding regulation barring coverage for gender-affirming surgeries. In 2017, The California Department of Justice joined an amicus brief in support of TAVA and the veterans’ rights to health care coverage from the VA in Fulcher v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Nearly eight years later, TAVA has now sought a writ of mandamus to compel the VA to respond to its rulemaking petition within a reasonable period of time.  

In the amicus brief, the coalition argues that the VA regulation:

  • Significantly harms the health and lives of transgender veterans by denying them medically necessary care that protects their physical, emotional, and psychological health.
  • Discriminates against transgender veterans by excluding them from the same care that is offered to cisgender and intersex veterans.
  • Shifts burdens to the health care systems of the amici states, who often step in to provide the care that should have been provided by the VA.
  • Fails to recognize how comprehensive health care for transgender people produces positive health care outcomes without imposing significant financial costs.

Attorney General Bonta continues to build on his ongoing commitment to protecting the rights of transgender individuals:

  • Earlier this month, Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a legal alert warning all California school officials against forced gender identity disclosure policies detrimental to the privacy, safety, and well-being of transgender and gender-nonconforming students.
  • In January, Attorney General Bonta led 16 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of Chico Unified School District’s policy safeguarding the privacy and safety of transgender and gender-nonconforming students.
  • In December 2023, Attorney General Bonta led 20 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of a district court ruling granting a permanent injunction against an Arkansas law banning gender-affirming care for transgender youth.
  • In December 2023, Attorney General Bonta filed an amicus brief supporting a challenge by teachers, students, and parents to two Temecula Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees’ enactments that violate students’ constitutional and statutory rights.
  • In October 2023, Attorney General Bonta secured a ruling from the San Bernardino Superior Court enjoining Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education’s mandatory gender identity disclosure policy. The court held that such disclosure policies are likely to violate transgender and gender nonconforming students’ right to equal protection under the California Constitution and can result in irreparable harm to those students. Attorney General Bonta had previously secured a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the policy. The Superior Court’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General challenging the enforcement of CVUSD’s forced outing policy. Prior to filing the lawsuit, Attorney General Bonta opened a civil rights investigation into the legality of the CVUSD’s adoption of the policy. Prior to opening the investigation, Attorney General Bonta in July sent a letter to Superintendent Norman Enfield and the Board of Education cautioning them of the dangers of adopting the forced outing policy and explaining that the policy potentially infringed on students' privacy rights and educational opportunities.

In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of Washington, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the amicus brief is available here.

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