After months of uncertainty and upheaval as Trump attempts to ban transgender individuals from serving our country in the military (an effort that has been partially blocked by federal courts), NBC News reports that the Pentagon paid for the gender confirmation surgery of an active duty soldier.
The woman underwent surgery in a private hospital on Tuesday. "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 provided to NBC News. "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."
When Trump announced a transgender military ban in July, he cited "tremendous medical costs" as one of the reasons that transgender people shouldn't be permitted to serve, as reported by The New York Times. Citing a 2016 study conducted by the RAND Corporation, the outlet reported that the actual cost of health care for transgender soldiers actually increases military spending by somewhere between 0.04 to 0.13 percent.
To put this in perspective, the military currently spends approximately five times more of its budget on Viagra than health care for transgender soldiers undergoing confirmation procedures, as reported by The Washington Post in July.
Although transgender military members unfortunately have reason to be concerned about their futures right now, the Pentagon's decision to provide this woman with the health care she deserves is an encouraging one — and hopefully it won't be the last time we see the government support trans soldiers.