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Keker, Van Nest & Peters, Representing Cities, Counties, and Businesses Across the Nation, Urges the Federal Circuit to Support Transgender Veterans’ Access to Medical Care


Sharif E. Jacob and Philip J. Tassin of Keker, Van Nest & Peters, representing cities, counties, and major businesses across the nation, filed an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, asking the Court to compel the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to repeal its blanket ban on surgical care for transgender veterans, which denies those who have bravely served our country medically necessary care simply because they are transgender.

The brief, authored by Keker, Van Nest & Peters, the Santa Clara County Counsel’s Office, and Steptoe & Johnson LLP, and joined by a diverse group of cities and businesses, was filed in Fulcher v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (No. 17-1460). The brief supports the arguments of a petition on behalf of two transgender veterans and the Transgender Americans Veterans Association seeking to repeal the VA’s regulation excluding surgery for “gender alterations” from the suite of medical benefits offered to veterans. Before the November 2016 election, the VA had announced that it was reconsidering the discriminatory regulation, but after the election it abruptly reversed course.

The brief argues that the VA’s policy is out of step with the inclusive health care policies of a wide range of public and private entities and denies what can be life-saving care for veterans. Through interviews with employees of the County of Santa Clara, the brief highlights the County’s experiences in providing transgender-inclusive benefits to its employees, and residents who are members of or have Medi-Cal benefits managed by the County’s Valley Health Plan. The brief also points to a wide range of studies demonstrating that providing transgender-inclusive medical benefits, including gender-confirmation surgery, imposes negligible, if any, costs.

Keker, Van Nest & Peters represented the following cities, counties, and businesses on the brief: American Airlines, Inc.; City of Austin, Texas; City of Cambridge, Massachusetts; City of Dayton, Ohio; City of Gainesville, Florida; City of Long Beach, California; City of Miami Beach, Florida; City of New York, New York; City of Portland, Maine; City of Portland, Oregon; City of Rochester, New York; City of Rockville, Maryland; City and County of San Francisco, California; County of Santa Clara, California; City of Stamford, Connecticut; Viacom Inc.; City of West Hollywood, California; and City of Yonkers, New York.  Also joining Keker, Van Nest & Peters’ clients on the brief were CREDO Mobile, Inc.; Greater Seattle Business Association; the City of Seattle; Replacements, Ltd.; and MassMutual.