Do Trans People Cost the Military More Money?

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Donald Trump promised to be America’s most gay-friendly president ever, and he’s proven that by saving the lives of more than 15,000 transgender people by prohibiting them from serving in the military. What a guy! He clearly just wants to protect them just like he protecting himself when he got out of going to Vietnam because his feetsies hurt.

Trump claims the reason for this is financial, because transgender people require additional medical costs. Those costs amount to an estimated $8.4 millions at the absolute maximum, which is an increase of .13% of the total military budget. To really put that into perspective, note that that is less money than the cost of three of Trump’s regular trips to his Florida vacation home.

$8.4 million is also a fraction of what the military spends on other very specific healthcare needs, like Viagra, which costs the military over $41 million. To be clear, I think that’s probably a good expense — military veterans deserve treatment for erectile dysfunction due to issues like PTSD. But if Trump really wanted to tighten the belt, he could easily save five times more money by just banning men.

In addition to the problem of how much medical care costs, Trump also cited the problem of “disruption” due to trans people serving alongside cis people. You will probably be shocked to learn that this, too, is complete bullshit.

There are a number of ways someone could claim trans people would be a disruption — one way is that their transition surgery would remove them from active duty. That doesn’t actually impact the military because there are so few of them (which is also the reason their medical costs are so low). Fewer than 200 people would likely request surgery each year, compared to 50,000 people each year who are ineligible for active duty in the Army alone for various medical or personal reasons.

The other way someone might consider trans people “disruptive” would be in terms of them getting along with their fellow servicepeople, due to bigotry or some other inter-relational trouble. Luckily, we have data on that, too, because there are 18 other countries that already allow trans people to serve in their military. And guess what? They all get along just fine. Isis isn’t winning any battles with Canada, Australia, or the UK due to the presence of trans people. I mean, if anything, making Isis fight against trans and gay servicepeople is a nice psychological “fuck you,” since hating on trans people is really more of an Isis thing than an American thing. Or, at least, it used to be.

So trans people don’t actually add any significant costs or disruption to the military. What, then, is the point of this new statement from Trump? Well, some think it could be a distraction from Republicans taking healthcare from millions of people, and some think it could be a distraction from Russia controlling our government. I think it’s just good old fashioned bigotry combined with appealing to the GOP’s base. They love war, but only if it’s fought by a race of ubermensch. Oh, and not their own sons, of course. And not the president of the United States who is making decisions about what our military does.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon mstdn.social/@rebeccawatson Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky @rebeccawatson.bsky.social

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One Comment

  1. As you say, this is clearly a distraction from the healthcare and the Russia.

    I am mortified though – despite transgender equality in our military, you guys have marriage equality but in Australia we have none!

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