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The best estimate of how many service members are transgender comes from a 2016 Rand Corp. study, which says that 1,320 to 6,630 of the 1.3 million active duty service members may be transgender.
For months, Kiera Walker grappled with the decision of how and when to come out as a transgender woman to her fellow members of the Coast Guard. She had served in the Guard’s Duluth, Minnesota, station for about two and a half years, but her colleagues had known her only as Kieran, the male gender marker she used when she signed up for the Coast Guard Reserve years before.
"Military hospitals do not have the surgical expertise to perform this type of surgery, therefore it was conducted in a private hospital," said White, who added that that because the service member "had already begun a sex-reassignment course of treatment ... a waiver was approved by the director of the Defense Health Agency."
Because the ban on transgender service members was only removed last year, gender reassignment surgeries have so far been relatively rare.
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.
A Defense Department official said that the service member who underwent the surgery, earlier reported by NBC News, identifies as a woman. The Pentagon’s health insurance program “will cover this surgery in accordance with the department’s interim guidance for transgender service members,” Ms. White said.
An active-duty service member underwent gender transition surgery Tuesday in the first such procedure approved under a waiver allowing the Pentagon to pay for the operation.
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 after NBC News' initial report on the procedure. "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.