News (USA)

Pentagon bucks Trump & authorizes gender confirmation surgery for trans soldier

Donald Trump James Mattis
President Donald J. Trump departs from the Pentagon alongside Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Jan. 27, 2017, in Washington, D.C.Photo: DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr

The Pentagon will pay for an active-duty transgender soldier’s gender confirmation surgery, the first such procedure approved under a waiver, NBC reports.

A source said the patient is a female infantry soldier. The waiver was signed by Vice Admiral Raquel Bono, head of the Defense Health Agency, on Monday.

“This afternoon, an active-duty military member received a sex-reassignment surgery. Military hospitals do not have the surgical expertise to perform this type of surgery, therefore it was conducted in a private hospital,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

“Because this service member had already begun a sex-reassignment course of treatment, and the treating doctor deemed this surgery medically necessary, a waiver was approved by the director of the Defense Health Agency,” it continued. “The Supplemental Health Care Program will cover this surgery in accordance with the Department’s interim guidance on transgender Service members.”

Last year, a policy put in place by the Obama administration that allowed transgender soldiers to serve openly also provided coverage for such surgeries for active-duty members of the military.

In August, President Donald Trump signed a memo banning transgender soldiers from the military, and putting an end to future funding for gender confirmation surgery. This followed his tweet, where he first announced his intentions to keep trans people out of the military.

Trump said he conferred with his generals in making the decision, but as recent statements from numerous military leaders has brought that into question, Democrats have demanded proof.

A federal judge has blocked both bans, and lawsuits have been filed challenging the change in course.

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