Florida Transgender Veteran Kicked Out of VA Medical Center Bathroom
Author: Christopher Wiggins
A transgender Army veteran in Florida is outraged after she was asked to leave the women’s restroom while on federal property at a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in West Palm Beach.
In the brief video clip, a staff member with a badge can be heard asking if the person behind the camera had a “sex change” or was “born a woman.” The interaction occurs in a hallway in front of photographs of President Joe Biden and VA Secretary Dennis McDonough. Biden has been a staunch supporter of trans rights during his presidency.
“I keep showing them my Florida driver’s license that says [female]; my gender is female on the driver’s license,” Jeloudov says.
She says that eventually, armed police officers were called, and they finally asked her to leave the property.
Before that, she says a manager asked why she didn’t just use a unisex single bathroom.
“I said, well, by law, I’m allowed to use the female bathroom,” Jeloudov says. “They were trying to humiliate me. And then they threw me out of the bathroom. So I didn’t get to go to the toilet properly until I got home, which was more than an hour away.”
Although Florida recently passed a law requiring people to use the bathroom that reflects their gender assigned at birth, federal facilities are not required to comply with it.
Jeloudov says that after the incident she complained directly to the Department of Veterans Affairs. She was sent a statement that she considered insincere and insufficient.
She says this isn’t the first time in the last eight years that she’s had difficulty with the agency. She says that for years it was a struggle to access hormones, and now that she can, she encounters this kind of discrimination.
“I even reached out to my local congressman, but he’s a Republican,” she says.
When The Advocate inquired about her case, a spokesperson for the VA sent the same statement that Jeloudov had received.
“This is unacceptable, and we are immediately reaching out to this Veteran to apologize. We have also launched an investigation to ensure that this does not happen again,” the statement attributed to VA press secretary Terrence Hayes states.
“VA’s policy (outlined here) is that Veterans are welcome to use any and all facilities that correspond to their self-identified gender identity. Moreover, it’s our job at VA to make sure that Veterans of all gender identities know that whenever they walk into a VA facility, they will be treated with the care, compassion, and respect that they deserve. That is the standard to which we hold all VA employees. This incident was a failure of that mission, and we will not rest until it is fixed – for this Veteran and for all Veterans who entrust us with their care.”
Jeloudov was left unimpressed by the statement and says she would probably not return to the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center location out of fear of how she would be treated next.
She says she would rather forgo the essential care she needs than suffer through being afraid while trying to receive medical care.
“I’m not going back there or any other VA facility,” she says. “This has gone on for too long. My and others’ complaints were disregarded and were laughed at.”
A Department of Veterans Affairs spokesperson told The Advocate that the department takes this incident very seriously and that Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Health Shereef Elnahal reached out to Jeloudov to assure her that her concerns were heard and that corrective measures were taken.
Jeloudov confirmed the conversation with Elnahal.
“He seemed informed and told me that it was painful for him to watch the video,” she says. “He apologized. [He] also said [that] someone from the office will reach out. I don’t know at this point.”
Jeloudov explains, “The VA Undersecretary tried to reassure me, but I just freeze when I think about those VA hospitals and those employees; I’ve had enough of their bullying for years going unchallenged. I’ve lost faith altogether.”
She says that a national patient advocate program representative contacted her, but she still doesn’t feel safe.
“Loads of promises,” Jeloudov says. “As usual.”
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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Christopher Wiggins