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Pentagon Pays for Gender Affirmation Surgery Despite Trump's Military Ban

An active-duty infantry soldier underwent gender affirmation surgery on Tuesday, the first after a federal judge blocked President Trump’s ban on transgender service members last month.

The soldier became the first service member to undergo the procedure while having it paid for by the Defense Department since the ban was halted by a U.S. district judge. She received her Combat Infantry Badge in Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan in 2003.

According to a report by NBC News, Vice Admiral Raquel Bono, the head of the Defense Health Agency, which provides medical care to active-duty military personnel, approved the waiver request for surgery 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. The Supplemental Health Care Program will cover this surgery in accordance with the Department's interim guidance on transgender service members."

Last month, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly put a halt to the President’s ban on transgender service members after determining it violated their rights to due process. She also found that the reason for the ban was not “supported by any facts.”

President Trump announced his intent to implement the ban via Twitter back in July while officially releasing guidance in August. It originally gave Defense Secretary James Mattis until February 2018 to come up with a plan regarding how to implement the ban. Judge Kollar-Kotelly halted the ban in October.

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