WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will provide sex-change operations to some active-duty transgender service members if a military doctor determines that surgery is required to treat the individual’s gender dysphoria, a Defense Department spokesman said Tuesday.
The department will begin providing transgender service members on active duty all “medically necessary” treatment starting Oct. 1, said Air Force Maj. Ben Sakrisson, the Pentagon spokesman. Treatment could include behavioral health care, hormone therapy, and in some cases gender reassignment surgery. Service members must be diagnosed as stable in their preferred gender for 18 months before they can receive treatment.
“The Secretary of Defense has made clear that service members with a diagnosis from a military medical provider indicating that gender transition is medically necessary will be provided medical care and treatment for the diagnosed medical condition,” Sakrisson said.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter on June 30 repealed the longstanding ban on transgender men and women serving openly in the U.S. military, but he gave the services one year to determine and implement many of the changes that would be necessary for transgender service members – ranging from policies on communal shower facilities to physical fitness standards.
It remained unclear at the time whether the Pentagon would consider gender-reassignment surgery “medically necessary” or an elective, cosmetic surgery, a defense official said. The Defense Department will not pay for any such surgeries not required for medical reasons.
Transgender service members who are approved for sex-change surgery will be treated at either a military hospital or a private hospital through Tricare, if there is not a qualified provider at the military facility, Sakrisson said. Surgeries, and all other care, will be funded through the Defense Health Program appropriation.