The Psychologist’s Role in Transgender-Specific Care With U.S. Veterans

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Psychologists are integral to the care of transgender individuals. This article details the many roles for psychologists in transgender-specific care, including diagnosing and treating gender dysphoria; providing treatment for comorbid conditions; referring to medical services such as gender confirmation surgeries, voice modification, and cross-sex hormone therapies; serving as consultants within health care systems; and advocating for addressing barriers in systems in which transgender individuals live and work. Transgender veterans have unique experiences and vulnerabilities related to their military service that are detailed from a review of the literature, and we make the case that Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and community psychologists are well-positioned to provide care to transgender veterans (trans-vets). In this article, the authors describe the experiences that many trans-vets have faced, identify the importance of treatment for gender dysphoria (and draw the distinction between gender identity disorder and gender dysphoria) as well as psychologists’ roles, and clarify which transgender-related services are available to eligible veterans though VHA per policy and how VHA providers have access to training to provide that care. In addition, we describe how veterans can connect to the VHA, even if they have (and want to continue working with) non-VHA psychologists or other community providers.

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