Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Politico -- Inside Trump’s snap decision to ban transgender troops

A congressional fight over sex reassignment surgery threatened funding for his border wall.

President Trump on Wednesday announced that the military would no longer allow transgender people to serve, citing both “the tremendous medical costs and disruption” that would be caused by their integration into U.S. forces.

Trump’s sudden decision to ban transgender people from military service apparently was because a Republican brawl threatening to tank a Pentagon funding increase, which included Mexican border wall construction. The kerfuffle was over finding enough money in the amendment to a defense authorization bill by banning funding for gender reassignment surgeries and treatments for transgender active-duty personnel.

Donald Trump's reasoning for barring transgender members from military service was cost. But cost should not be an issue. The Defense Department commissioned a study last year by the RAND Corporation. 

The study estimated that there were between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender active-duty service members -- out of 1.3 million service members in total -- and noted that not all of them would seek treatment related to gender transitioning. The study also estimated that the cost associated with medical care for gender transition would only increase military health care expenditures by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million each year -- an increase of between 0.04 and 0.13 percent. The study found that fewer than 0.1 percent of military members would seek treatments that could delay deployments, according to the Scientific American.

By contrast, total military spending on erectile dysfunction medicines amounts to $84 million annually, according to an analysis by the Military Times -- 10 times the cost of annual transition-related medical care for active duty transgender service members, according to the Washington Post.

By Rachael Bade And Josh Dawsey