On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted that transgender people would no longer be allowed to serve in the military, defending his decision to reinstate the service ban by citing the "tremendous" financial cost having trans service members would entail.
In the series of tweets posted Wednesday morning, Trump shared that he had consulted with unnamed military experts about the decision, and that accepting openly transgender people in the military would be off the table indefinitely.
After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.
While Trump's statements would indicate his reversal of the Obama-era policy allowing openly transgender people in the military is a decision concerned with finances, experts have already chimed in to correct claims surrounding the cost of trans people serving in the military.
An article published in the New England Journal of Medicine back in 2015 estimated that treating transgender people in the military could cost about $4 million per year. This number presents a stark contrast to the $3.7 billion dollars in medical costs estimated by the Family Research Council, a pro-life group that on their website expresses beliefs that "homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed."
Another report, estimated by the RAND corporation estimated that the military's health costs would, at the very most, increase by up to 8.4 million per year, with the acceptance of transgender people; this is just a 0.13 percent cost increase. For context, The Guardian reports that the Pentagon spends around $6 billion annually on medical care for active service members.
Last week, the Missouri GOP congresswoman Vicky Hartzler shared a statement expressing her opposition to the acceptance of transgender people in the military, claiming it would cost "over a billion dollars."
Steps must be taken to address this misuse of our precious defense dollars. This policy hurts our military's readiness and will take over a billion dollars from the Department of Defense's budget. This is still an important issue that needs to be addressed.
If you want to lend your financial support to active transgender military members, or trans veterans, you can donate to the Transgender American Veterans Association. Funds go towards ensuring that trans veterans receive full care for medical treatment after their service. While TAVA is particularly focused on providing and covering gender dysphoria treatment, proceeds also cover other forms of mental and physical health care.