President Donald J. Trump has decided to advance his bogus ban on trans individuals openly serving in the US military beyond tweeting vague dictates on the matter.
Per the Wall Street Journal, Trump is expected to “issue guidance” to the Pentagon and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis which will be somewhat clearer than his original three-part tweetstorm in July, which proclaimed trans people will no longer be allowed “to serve in any capacity” in the armed forces. There was no shortage of confusion over the tweets, which contained no actual information on how the president intended the Pentagon to carry the policy out, but did contain plenty of nonsensical rambling about “decisive and overwhelming victory.”
Per the WSJ account, Trump is giving Mattis the ability to consider whether trans soldiers will be able to deploy when deciding who to discharge, as well as directs him to stop admitting any new trans soldiers and cut off related medical treatments for those currently serving. Mattis is being given a six-month window to implement the policy.
Trump’s psuedomedical Twitter thesis for the decision was that trans soldiers “burdened” the military with “tremendous medical costs and disruption,” all of which is a lie of mind-boggling proportions. No evidence backs this idea. It’s naked pandering to bigots, and especially that particular brand of bigot eager to stigmatize trans people as mentally ill.
The total cost of providing adequate medical care to the US’ estimated 1,320-6,600 trans service members would cost $2.4-8.4 million annually out of the military’s $6.27 billion health care budget, the WSJ reported, citing a 2016 Rand Corp study. Even if you take the $8.4 million number as a given, that’s about a tenth of what the military spends on erectile dysfunction treatments for troops, about $84 million.
One Palm Center and Naval Postgraduate School study found the cost of discharging and replacing trans service members could run as high as $960 million, or approximately 114 times as much as Rand’s high-end estimate.
As for readiness, on Tuesday some 56 retired generals, admirals and other high-ranking military officers signed a letter to Trump saying the ban would disrupt the readiness of the armed forces. Research has shown there is no evidence trans troops disrupted anything in at least 18 other militaries where they are allowed to serve openly. The Rand study estimated just 29 to 129 trans service members would be unavailable for active deployment due to transition-related care at any given time.
By the way, the military at large has tens of thousands of soldiers unavailable for deployment at any given time for medical, legal or administrative reasons.
As Gizmodo noted previously, the military is usually willing to shell out countless billions of dollars in sketchy contracts, unnecessary new equipment and sheer administrative waste. It wastes money left and right, and Trump wants to throw billions of dollars more on the pile anyhow.
So the idea the US’ massive military-industrial complex will be ground to a halt by the cost of paying for a few thousand soldiers’ heath care is beyond trite. It’s insulting. Trump wants to fuck with people fighting in the US military because he’s a cranky bigot, plain and simple.