Transgender surgery for active military personnel and veterans will be paid for by American taxpayers thanks to an executive order signed by President Joe Biden.
Biden signed the executive order — "Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform" — on Jan. 25, which repeals an Obama-era policy that banned federally funded gender reassignment surgery, according to the Washington Examiner.
Biden's order states that the military "thrives when it is composed of diverse Americans who can meet the rigorous standards for military service, and an inclusive military strengthens our national security."
"It is my conviction as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces that gender identity should not be a bar to military service," Biden declared. "Moreover, there is substantial evidence that allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military does not have any meaningful negative impact on the Armed Forces."
Recent Department of Defense memos confirm free gender reassignment surgery would be added to the military benefits package.
"This revised policy will also ensure all medically-necessary transition related care authorized by law is available to all Service members," Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin wrote.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough sent an order to VA employees, saying, "Perform an assessment of the necessary steps to eliminate the exclusion of 'gender alteration' (gender affirmation surgery) in the medical benefits package."
In February, McDonough ordered a top-down review of department policies to ensure the VA was complying with Biden's executive order against any discrimination against transgender service members.
"My goal as secretary is to make sure VA is welcoming to all veterans, including our transgender veterans," McDonough said.
TRICARE, the military's health insurance provider, lists hormone replacement therapy and psychotherapy for gender dysphoria as "covered services."
"TRICARE generally doesn't cover surgery for gender dysphoria," the health care provider states on its website. "However, active duty service members may request a waiver if their provider deems surgery medically necessary."
A 2019 report from USA Today revealed that the "Pentagon has spent nearly $8 million to treat more than 1,500 transgender troops since 2016, including 161 surgical procedures." The investigation stated that "1,071 service members have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Public Health Service on active duty and in the reserve force."
Gender reassignment surgery can cost more than $100,000.
A 2017 report found there are more than 134,000 veterans and 15,000 service members who identify as transgender.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who is an Iraq War veteran and sits on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, supports transgender individuals serving in the military, but disputes American taxpayers funding sex-change surgeries.
"This is radical and new territory for a presidential administration to force taxpayers to fund sexual reassignment surgeries for those in the military," Banks told the Examiner. "I'm compassionate toward those individuals who want to undergo an elective surgery of this nature, but taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook to pay for it. It's constitutionally dubious that Congress hasn't passed these measures, but the administration, in a radical way, is pushing through this agenda. I sit on the committee that should debate these issues."