A federal board ruled Friday that Medicare can no longer automatically deny healthcare coverage for transgender patients.

In a groundbreaking decision, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Departmental Appeals Board ruled in favor of a 74-year-old transgender Army veteran.

Denee Mallon of Albuquerque, New Mexico two years ago was denied coverage for her genital reconstruction surgery.

“When people ask if I am too old, it feels like they are implying that it's a 'waste of money' to operate at my age,” Mallon told the AP. “But I could have an active life ahead of me for another 20 years. And I want to spend those years in congruence and not distress.”

The 5-member panel said there was no justification for the outright ban.

The ACLU explained in a statement that lifting of the ban “means that individuals will not automatically have claims of coverage for gender transition-related surgeries denied. They should either get coverage or, at a minimum, receive an individualized review of the medical need for the specific procedure they seek, just like anyone seeking coverage for any other medical treatment.”

Mallon added in a statement: “This decision means so much to me and to many other transgender people. I am relieved to know that my doctor and I can now address my medical needs, just as other patients and doctors do.”