The U.S. Defense Department on Tuesday released a new Tricare policy for expanding transgender treatments for military family members and retirees.
The coverage change had been in the works and was first reported by Military.com.
The move gives the health care system's regional contractors the go-ahead to cover some transgender care starting Oct. 6.
The policy covers mental health counseling and hormone therapy for "gender dysphoria," the clinical term for those who identify as a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth. It prohibits hormone therapy coverage for children under 16.
"Because a diagnosis of gender dysphoria in a prepubertal child may resolve [a majority of childhood cases do not persist into adolescence], endocrine treatment of prepubertal children ... is not authorized," the policy states.
A ban on openly serving transgender troops was lifted by Defense Department officials in June.
By Oct. 1, officials will issue a handbook for commanders and all those affected by the new policy, as well as medical guidance for providing transition care to transgender troops.
As part of the new policy, military medical facilities will provide hormone treatment, counseling and sex-change surgery when deemed "medically necessary."
Sex-change surgery is explicitly prohibited in Tricare's new policy, unless it is treating "ambiguous genitalia which is documented to have been present at birth," the policy states.
Tricare is prohibited by law from covering the procedure, according to a Defense Department spokesman.
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.