Transgender Veterans and the Veterans Health Administration: Exploring the Experiences of Transgender Veterans in the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System

Kris Rosentel, Brandon J. Hill, Connie Lu, Joshua Trey Barnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Purpose: The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has provided transgender transition-related care to veterans since 2011. However, little is known about the experiences of transgender veteran patients accessing transgender transition-related healthcare at Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics since the establishment of this care. The purpose of this study was to explore transgender veterans' experiences accessing and utilizing transition-related healthcare through the VA healthcare system. Methods: Eleven transgender veterans were recruited using in-person recruitment at the 2013 Southern Comfort Conference (Atlanta, GA). In-depth semistructured interviews were conducted with participants using a qualitative inquiry methodological perspective and experience-centered approach. Interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. The transcripts were coded by two independent researchers using ATLAS.ti. Results: Five inter-related themes were identified as key factors impacting the accessibility and quality of care transgender veterans receive through the VA: (1) long delays in receiving care; (2) needing to travel to receive care; (3) lack of patient knowledge regarding the coverage of transition-related care; (4) insensitivity, harassment, and violence among providers; and (5) a general lack of knowledge about transgender patients and care among providers. Conclusion: To our knowledge, this study is one of the first to explore the experiences of transgender veterans in accessing and utilizing transgender transition-related care at the VA after the 2011 VHA directive. Our findings suggest that although transgender healthcare coverage is available, additional patient-centered and healthcare system-level interventions are needed to improve the uptake and implementation of the VHA transgender protections and care coverage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-116
Number of pages9
JournalTransgender Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Kris Rosentel et al. 2016; Published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2016.


  • VA clinic
  • military/Department of Defense
  • transgender
  • transgender health
  • transgender veterans


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