Former Navy Surgeon Offers To Provide Free Surgery To Trans People In The Military

"If the commander-in-chief won’t take care of our veterans, our veterans will."

In the days since President Donald Trump tweeted his intention to ban all transgender people from the serving in the military "in any capacity," people have spoken out in various ways. Transgender veterans have weighed in on the issue, while lawyers and civil rights advocates have offered their help. In Washington, meanwhile, 45 senators signed a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis urging him not to instate the ban.

For Dr. Christine McGinn, a former Navy surgeon who is transgender herself, the answer to Trump's announcement was to offer free gender confirmation surgeries to transgender service members who may be affected. McGinn was named senior flight surgeon at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station in 2000, the same year she began her transition. She was once nominated for flight surgeon of the year.

On Saturday, McGinn appeared on CNN with anchor Michael Smerconish, who explained that she is a plastic surgeon who "routinely performs gender confirmation surgery." If the military won't cover the costs, McGinn said she would be "more than happy" to provide free surgery to those already on her list, calling Trump's decision "obvious discrimination."

"If the commander-in-chief won't take care of our veterans, our veterans will," McGinn told Smerconish. "I will do surgery for free on the number of people that I have already lined up for surgery."

In his tweets about the ban, Trump wrote that the military "cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption" of transgender people serving. McGinn challenged that claim by citing a 2016 Rand Corp. study which found that transition-related health care would cost between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually, which would be "a 0.04- to 0.13-percent increase in active-component health care expenditures."

"I think it's being twisted and spun to make it seem like it would be more than it is," she said. "I think the cost of getting rid of very well specialized, trained military service people is exponentially larger than just taking care of them."

She also made sure to add that some transgender service members will have already had gender confirmation surgery, while others may opt not to have it at all. In terms of readiness, McGinn also told Smerconish that most of her patients "are back to work in six weeks, sometimes two weeks."

While Trump's tweets caused plenty of controversy and raised many questions about the future of transgender service members, they may not be enough to actually change policy. According to The Hill, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford wrote in a letter last week, "There will be no modifications to the current policy until the president's direction has been received by the secretary of defense and the secretary has issued implementation guidance."

(H/T: HuffPost)

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