Army Wife Fears Transgender Ban Will Cut Daughter's Coverage - NBC Chicago
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Army Wife Fears Transgender Ban Will Cut Daughter's Coverage

"We're one tweet away from your sister not getting to see the doctor"

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    A military spouse in Virginia says she's worried that President Trump's tweets about transgender people mean her transgender daughter's health coverage will be eliminated. News4's Chris Lawrence reports. (Published Wednesday, July 26, 2017)

    After President Donald Trump sent three tweets Wednesday morning saying transgender individuals will be barred from serving in the military, a military spouse in Virginia had a visceral reaction: she burst into tears.

    Amanda Brewer is the wife of a soldier and mother of six, including a 14-year-old girl who is transgender.

    She and her kids were in the car when her son saw the news.

    "He read me the tweets and I instantly started crying," Brewer said.

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    In a series of tweets on July 26, President Donald Trump announced plans to ban transgender people from serving in the military "in any capacity." Trump cited "medical costs and disruption" as the reasons. His announcement comes just before the release of new, international medical guidelines that are expected to allow transgender children to alter their bodies at younger ages.

    (Published Wednesday, July 26, 2017)

    "He's like, 'What does that mean?'" she recalled her son saying.

    "That means that these people are not allowed," she replied. "We're one tweet away from your sister not getting to see the doctor."

    Brewer, whose husband serves at Fort Belvoir, said she's worried that Trump's decision will mean that Tricare, the military's health care system, will cut coverage of her daughter's treatment.

    When her daughter came out at age 11 and the family tried to get treatment at Children's National Medical Center, Tricare wouldn't cover it, Brewer said. After the Defense Department announced in June 2016 that transgender people could serve in the armed forces openly, Jennifer's care was covered.

    Now, her mom is scared that Jennifer's health care coverage will be eliminated.

    Jennifer was born male, and she's been through a lot. At school, classmates beat her up so badly that she suffered a concussion and missed weeks of class. Then, medical treatment helped improved her life.

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    At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was peppered with questions about how Trump's announcement will affect service members and their families. She responded by repeatedly calling the president's announcement a "military decision," and then threatened to end the press conference if reporters kept asking about the ban.

    A recent study shows that about 2,500 active-duty members of the U.S. military are known to be transgender.

    Trump said in his tweets that the military "cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender [sic] in the military would entail."

    The cost of health care for transgender people costs the military an estimated $2 million to $8 million annually. That's a fraction of a fraction of the military's annual health care budget of nearly $48 billion.

    Brewer said military families she knows are eager to know how Trump's three tweets affect their lives. 

    “A lot of them are scared and angry. They don't know -- what does this mean to them specifically?" she said.

    Jennifer's reaction to the president's tweets was sadness, Brewer said.

    "As my kiddo read it to me, I just lost it. She just looked and she was like, 'How long is it going to be before I don't have to go march or stand or talk, I'm just allowed to be?'"