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Ex-Navy Surgeon Promises Free Surgery for Transgender Troops

In response to President Trump’s tweets stating transgender people will not be able to serve "in any capacity in the U.S. Military” due, in part, to the “tremendous medical costs,” a former Navy surgeon has vowed to donate her services to transgender military personnel.

Dr. Christine McGinn — a plastic surgeon, veteran and transgender woman — said she would waive the costs of gender confirmation surgery for service members already on her list to undergo the procedure.

Image: Dr. Christine McGinn attends the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards
Dr. Christine McGinn attends the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards on March 24, 2012 in New York City. Mike Coppola / WireImage for GLAAD

"If the commander-in-chief won’t take care of our veterans, our veterans will," McGinn told CNN's Michael Smerconish on Saturday.

From 1997 to 2000, Dr. McGinn served as senior flight surgeon at Willow Grove Naval Air Station, the largest reserve base in the nation at the time. She was nominated for Flight Surgeon of the Year for the entire U.S. Navy in 2000, the same year she began her transition.

In her interview with CNN, Dr. McGinn dismissed President Trump's claims that transgender military service would entail "tremendous medical costs," instead saying the number is being "twisted and spun to make it seem like it would be more than it is."

"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 said.

Dr. McGinn, who practices in Pennsylvania, cited a 2016 study by the RAND corporation that found Military Health System costs would increase between $2.4 million and $8.4 million a year due to transition-related medical costs.

People on both sides of the issue, however, continue to debate the costs associated with the enlistment of transgender individuals.

Related: Trump Claims Transgender Service Members Cost Too Much

The Family Research Council (FRC), a conservative Christian group, estimated the potential costs of allowing transgender individuals in the military could total between $1.9 billion and $3.7 billion over the next 10 years. FRC explained their estimate includes "the cost of potential lost time of deployable service."

Dr. McGinn, who said she would have been capable of working as a naval flight surgeon upon completion of her own transition, explained that not all transgender troops opt for surgery, and those who do may require minimal downtime.

"In general, most of my patients are back to work in six weeks, sometimes two weeks," she explained.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), one of the nation's largest LGBTQ advocacy groups, praised McGinn's promise to perform free gender confirmation surgery.

"Dr. McGinn is a pioneer in care for transgender patients, and she continues to distinguish herself with her support for her patients," HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride told NBC News via email.

In her CNN interview, Dr. McGinn said it would be a mistake to get rid of transgender troops, calling President Trump's latest announcement "obvious discrimination."

"Look at what's happening in the world today; I feel like we need all hands on deck."

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