Pentagon to pay for transgender soldier's surgery - despite Trump's ban

Trump's decision to reinstate the ban was met with nationwide protests

Trump's decision to reinstate the ban was met with nationwide protests

The Pentagon approved a gender-reassignment surgery for an active-duty military member, defense officials said on Tuesday, four months after President Trump abruptly announced a ban on transgender people serving in the military. She got her Combat Infantry Badge in Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan in 2003, the source said.

Defence Department spokeswoman Dana White said the surgery was done Tuesday in a private hospital and was paid for by the military's health coverage because the doctor deemed it was medically necessary.

Vice Admiral Raquel Bono, head of the Defense Health Agency, which provides medical care to active-duty personnel, approved the waiver request for the surgery Monday, according to a Defense Department document.

The Supplemental Health Care Program, which facilitates health care to active-duty military members from the private sector, will cover the cost of the procedure.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted in July that he would ban transgender people from the military, a move that would reverse Democratic former President Barack Obama's policy of accepting them and halt years of efforts to eliminate barriers to military service based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Last month, a federal judge in Washington blocked Trump from banning transgender people from serving in the US military, handing a victory to transgender service members who accused the president of violating their constitutional rights. Two weeks ago, a federal judge temporarily blocked the ban, ruling that the administration's justification for it was suspect and most likely unconstitutional.

The Obama administration a year ago eliminated the longstanding ban on transgender individuals serving in the military.