Despite President Trump’s declarations to the contrary, an active-duty service member will have gender transition surgery Tuesday. The procedure will be handled at a private clinic, but the Pentagon approved a waiver allowing for the surgery to be paid for by the military, according to a Defense Department press release.
“The patient is an infantry soldier who identifies as a woman,” NBC reports. A source familiar with the soldier says she received “Combat Infantry Badge in Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan in 2003.”
The waiver request was approved by Vice Admiral Raquel Bono (above). She serves as the head of the Defense Health Agency, which oversees healthcare for active duty personnel. Vice Admiral Bono approved the request Monday.
This surgery flies in the face of announcements made by President Trump earlier this summer. He tweeted about the matter back in July, and signed a memo in August that put a stop to any future funding for sex-reassignment surgery.
Trump also blocked the Pentagon from accepting any new transgender recruits. The move was met with fierce opposition by some current and former members of the military. The civilian response was even more vociferous.Multiple lawsuits were filed and a federal court blocked the ban in October.
The argument against transgender service members, at least according to the Trump administration, hinges on the cost of the surgeries and the associated costs of follow-up care. Yet the RAND corporation conducted a study that found transgender service members “have minimal impact on readiness and health care costs.”
Estimates put the number of active-duty transgender service members somewhere between 1,320 and 6,530. The RAND corporation estimates those numbers to mean an expenditure of between $2.4 to $8.4 million a year.