The Pentagon said on Tuesday it had paid for gender-reassignment surgery of an active-duty service member that took place earlier in the day, as the issue of transgender troops serving in the USA military continues to garner national attention.
The soldier is reportedly a trans woman who previously fought in Afghanistan, earning her Combat Infantry Badge in Operation Anaconda in 2003.
It would be the first operation of its kind to be approved under a waiver that allows the Pentagon to pay for the procedure, NBC News reported.
Because the service member, who was not identified, had already started a sex-reassignment course of treatment, and the treating doctor deemed the surgery medically necessary, a waiver was approved by the director of the Defense Health Agency, White added. "The Supplemental Health Care Program will cover this surgery in accordance with the Department's interim guidance on transgender Service members".
But President Donald Trump tweeted in July that the federal government "will not accept or allow" transgender troops to serve "in any capacity" in the military.
Last month, a federal judge in Washington blocked Trump from banning transgender people from serving in the USA military, handing a victory to transgender service members who accused the president of violating their constitutional rights.
Even before the ruling, officials at the Defense Department had been slow-walking Mr. Trump's orders, telling transgender members of the military that they could continue to serve openly while the Pentagon decided how to handle the ban.
Because the ban on transgender service members was only removed previous year, gender reassignment surgeries have so far been relatively rare.