Taxpayers covered the cost of a soldier’s gender reassignment surgery for the first time, a Pentagon spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.
“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,” said Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana W. White.
“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. The Supplemental Health Care Program will cover this surgery in accordance with the Department’s interim guidance on transgender Service members.”
According to NBC News, the service member is an infantry soldier who identifies as a woman.
In July, President Trump called for banning transgender troops from serving in the military and later signed a memo banning them from enlisting, as well as stopping the military from paying for gender reassignment surgery.
A federal court last month partially blocked parts of the ban regarding the enlistment and retention of transgender troops, arguing that the plaintiffs “have established that they will be injured by these directives, due both to the inherent inequality they impose, and the risk of discharge and denial of accession that they engender.”
It’s estimated that out of 1.3 million service members in the military, there are between 1,320 and 6,530 active-duty transgender members, according to a RAND Corporation study last year.