Tricare Now Covering Transgender Treatment for Military and Families

As part of the new policy, military medical facilities will provide hormone treatment, counseling and sex-change surgery when deemed ‘medically necessary.

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A top Navy official said the United States military’s Tricare health care system now covers transgender military family members and retirees, even though the official policy has not gone live yet.

Military.com spoke to Navy Vice Adm. Raquel Bono August 18 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Bono, who is head of the Defense Health Agency, told Military.com, “”I’m not going to wait for the final policy.”

Bono added, “We’re going to go ahead and do that because that’s what our patients need.”

The policy was published for public comment in the Federal Register in February.

It makes allowances for hormone therapy and mental health counseling for “gender dysphoria.” That’s the clinical term for people who identify as a gender that is different than their sex at birth.

By law, Tricare cannot cover sex-change surgery.

The Department of Defense lifted a ban on openly transgender troops in June.

Officials will issue a handbook for commanders and everyone affected by the new policy by October 1. They also will put out medical guidance for providing transition care to transgender troops.

Amy Bushatz with Military.com wrote, “As part of the new policy, military medical facilities will provide hormone treatment, counseling and sex-change surgery when deemed ‘medically necessary.'”

Bono told Military.com that the official policy should go live by October 1.

“DHA and the Tricare plan have been working hand in glove with the services so that we’re able to roll this out in the same time frame,” Bono said. “We’ll be lock-step with what the services are doing. There should not be any lag; the whole goal is that we’re going to make this as seamless as we can.”

Bono told Military.com that Tricare is working with regional contractors to approve transgender treatment that the new police will cover. Bono said If the contractor will not approve it, she will.

“What I’m trying to do right now is give that approval level to the contractors, and if that’s still not in place, then it comes up to me and I wave it,” she said. “I don’t think we need to wait for the actual policy to be signed and wait for the ink to be dried. It’s something we can do.”

The president of the American Military Partner Association, which supports gay and transgender military families, told Military.com that families deserve care, regardless of medical needs.

“All service members and their family members, including those who happen to be transgender, deserve access to quality medical care — care they have earned serving our nation,” said Ashley Broadway, AMPA’s president. “We look forward to reviewing the new regulations and hope they provide the full range of appropriate and medically necessary care.”