US President Donald Trump announced recently that transgender troops would not be allowed to serve in the military in any capacity. As a gay veteran who entered the Army under DADT and was one of the first gay soldiers to come out after the repeal, I naturally have some very strong feelings about this.
One of the two justifications for why transgender individuals should not be allowed to serve was the cost, Trump declaring that allowing trans troops to serve would simply be too expensive. This was quickly proven to be an utter fallacy when military budgeting for erectile dysfunction emerged. Here’s the fast and dirty breakdown:
-There are currently around 4,000 trans service members serving in the military.
-Their medical costs comprise/would comprise roughly .02%-0.13% (2.4-8.4 million dollars) of military spending.
-The military currently spends 84 million dollars on erectile dysfunction treatments. This is roughly ten times the cost of transgender healthcare coverage.
-41.6 million dollars are spent on Viagra alone, an estimated 5 times the cost of what it would take to care for our transgender troops.
In addition to these costs, military budgeting would suffer greater financial burdens should they choose to ban transgender individuals rather than allow them to serve. The cost of medically screening, processing through military legal procedures, and then ultimately discharging the service member would far outweigh the “benefit” of the ban. Furthermore, the subsequent lawsuits that would immediately be filed against the United States government would cost taxpayers a heck of a lot more than it would for those troops that chose gender reassignment surgery (something that not all or even most transgender troops elect for). The ACLU and Lambda Legal have both promised swift and decisive action should the ban go into effect. As near an assurance as any that the Supreme Courts would be pulled into a costly and altogether unnecessary legal battle. The ACLU has vowed to go to war with the Trump administration should the ban become more than just another one of Trump’s ego-stroking. To make a donation to the ALCU feel free to follow this link.
The second reason Trump provided for his ban on trans troops was their deployable status. What he fails to realize is that it is incredibly easy to gain a determination of undeployable. Some of the conditions that make a service member eligible for non-deployable status are pregnancy, hearing loss, not having seen the dentist in the last 12 months, and needing a CPAP machine. Yet, remarkably, female troops aren’t being kicked out of the military for getting pregnant, service members who lose their hearing still serve with hearing aids, those with poor dental hygiene are still allowed to serve their country, and sleep apnea doesn’t warrant for barring from service.
This attack on transgender service members doesn’t surprise me in the least. With far-right extremists like Mike Pence serving as advisers it was only a matter of time before Trump started his campaign against the LGBT community. And as conservatives start to quietly bow out of supporting the Trump administration as more of the Russian collusion scandal comes to the surface, this ploy to garner right-wing backing is tantamount to Trump standing on the White House lawn, jumping up and down, and screaming “Look over here! Nothing to see there, look over here!”.
Ultimately, women were allowed to serve despite being decried as "physically inferior", gays and lesbians entered the military force openly despite conservative fears that the entire social infrastructure of the military would collapse, and finally the buck has come full circle and the trans community is under attack. I'm certain that despite the uneducated, counterintuitive ramblings of POTUS the military chiefs and generals will keep their faith with transgender service members and continue treating all individuals with the utmost respect.