On today’s date in 1948, President Harry Truman desegregated the American military with an executive order. On the same date almost 70 years later, President Donald Trump announced he was kicking transgender people out of the military on Twitter, the platform he usually uses to spew stream-of-conscious nonsense and bigoted vitriol. Why? Apparently, transgender healthcare is too much of a burden to our nearly 600-billion-dollar military budget.
That’s bullshit. You know it’s bullshit.
Estimates show that there are between 1300 and 6000 active transgender service members, accounting for somewhere between 0.1 and 0.5 percent of active serving members. Transgender care would cost the military between 2.5 and 8.5 million dollars annually, according to a RAND corporation analysis published last year. That amounts to a healthcare expenditure increase of 0.04- to 0.13 percent.
A single F/A-18 plane costs around $70 million. Outfitting the Afghan National Army in a proprietary camouflage pattern may have cost the government $28 million. The Pentagon flushed over $100 billion in administrative money, and then tried to hide the results of an internal study reporting that fact, according to the Washington Post.
To allow another few thousand Americans to serve their country in a military the president wants to grow is a few-million-dollars drop in the bucket. It is a nearly risk-less investment. This decision wasn’t financial. It was just a cruel, hate-filled political move.
And it’s a move that will only cause further hurt. There’s no evidence to prove that removing transgender soldiers will have any benefit, of course (because that’s a ludicrous thought) and anecdotes support the opposite. “Commanders noted that the [foreign military transgender inclusion policies] had benefits for all service members by creating a more inclusive and diverse force,” according to the RAND analysis.
And as a reminder, the numbers are hazy but the ACLU reports that one fifth of transgender people are veterans, while another estimate shows that there are approximately 134,000 transgender veterans total. Though Trump’s decision does not mention veterans, it is worth noting that transgender people are currently twice as likely as others to serve in the military.
This is a hate move. There is no explanation but hate. How does pulling a few thousand Americans out of the military make our country safer?
Trans healthcare is already bad. But it’s not bad because it’s expensive (though some parts of it can be). It’s bad because insurance companies don’t cover it, and because American doctors don’t know how to speak to someone who just wants you to treat them with the respect they deserve. It’s bad because doctors are unwilling to accommodate transgender patients. It’s bad because the President is unwilling to accommodate transgender people.
As with many of Trump’s Twitter ravings, the details of how the president plans to enact this abhorrent decision are unclear, although CNN reports that Defense Secretary James Mattis already delayed enactment of a 2016 Obama decision that would allow transgender people to serve openly in the military. And simply discharging all of those soldiers will be an enormous cost. A United States Government Accountability Office report calculated that it cost the department $193.3 million ($52,800 each) in 2009 dollars to discharge and “replace the 3,664 servicemembers separated under the homosexual conduct policy.”
That’s right, discharging the existing soldiers could cost anywhere from 20 to 100 times more than simply paying more for their healthcare.
Still, the president’s announcement today should serve as a reminder to you that Making America Great Again has nothing to do with making the country better in any way. My understanding was that we’re supposed to be proud of our military as defenders of the country and its values.
I’m sorry, but what values?
This post has been updated as more data has become available.