On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced that it paid for the gender-reassignment surgery of an active-duty military service member who identifies as a transgender woman.
The anonymous military service member, who earned a Combat Infantry Badge in Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan in 2003, is the first individual to receive gender-reassignment surgery under a waiver allowing the Pentagon to fund the procedure.
According to a statement from the Pentagon, “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.”
The surgery was performed at a civilian hospital, as “military hospitals do not have the surgical expertise to perform this type of surgery.”
Vice Admiral Raquel Bono, head of the Defense Health Agency, approved the waiver request for the surgery, disregarding a memorandum issued by President Trump in August banning government funding for such operations. The ban was blocked by a federal judge in October.