The Pentagon Is Paying For A Transgender Soldier's Sex Reassignment Surgery For The First Time


An active-duty military member had sex-reassignment surgery on Tuesday, fitting the first to conclude so under a waiver program that allows the Pentagon to pay for it.

The transgender woman got her Combat Infantry Badge in Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan in 2003, according to NBC News, who first reported the news.

“This afternoon, an active-duty military member received a sex-reassignment surgery. Military hospitals conclude not occupy the surgical expertise to perform this type of surgery, therefore it was conducted in a private hospital,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana W. White said in a statement to BuzzFeed News Tuesday.

Because the service member, who was not identified, had already started a sex-reassignment course of treatment, and the treating doctor deemed the surgery medically essential, a waiver was approved by the director of the Defense Health Agency, White added.

The Supplemental Health Care Program, which facilitates health care to active-duty military members from the private sector, will cover the cost of the procedure.

In July, President Trump tweeted that transgender people cannot “serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” and the next month, signed a memo banning novel transgender recruits and halting funding on sex-reassignment surgery.

Two lawsuits challenged the president’s decision, saying it violated constitutional rights to equal protection and due process. A federal judge blocked parts of it just final month. (The policy was set to assume effect fully in March 2018.)

The judge’s order did not block the policy concerning sex reassignment surgeries, but Defense Secretary James Mattis still requires the military to supply transgender troops with those medical services.

In 2016, the Obama administration conducted studies that found transgender troops would not burden the military and established rules to let them serve openly.

Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.

Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at michelle@buzzfeed.com.

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