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The costs of allowing transgender people in the military are not "tremendous"

Janet Nguyen Jul 26, 2017
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A view of the Pentagon.
U.S. Air Force/Getty Images

In a series of tweets this morning, President Donald Trump said he would ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military, citing “tremendous medical costs.”

His statements on Twitter undermine policies set forth by President Obama’s administration, which said last year that transgender people could openly serve in the military. Trump’s declaration comes amid Congress’ consideration of a $700 billion spending bill to fund the Pentagon. 

But just how costly would these medical services actually be for the federal government? 

Given the typical health care costs for gender transition medical treatment, expenditures for transgender members would cost the military between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually, according to the Rand Corporation. Essentially a “minimal impact on readiness and health care costs,” the organization concluded. 

To put this into more context, the Washington Post noted other, costlier, expenses for the military — namely erectile dysfunction medication. That medication amounts to about $84 million a year in spending, said the Military Times. Just prescriptions for Viagra alone add up to about $41.6 million.

Pentagon officials were caught off guard by the tweets, per the New York Times, and organizations have pushed back against Trump’s declaration. That includes members of his own party. The Log Cabin Republicans, a group that represents gay conservatives and allies, issued a statement on how the president’s stance “does a disservice to transgender military personnel.”

“This smacks of politics, pure and simple. The United States military already includes transgender individuals who protect our freedom day in and day out,” wrote group president Gregory T. Angelo. “Excommunicating transgender soldiers only weakens our readiness; it doesn’t strengthen it.”  

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