Thirteen months ago, President Barack Obama ended the United States military’s ban on openly transgender service members.
Since Barack Obama did it, Donald Trump feels compelled to undo it:
— Jim McGovern (@RepMcGovern) July 26, 2017
As usual, a Trump Tweet outburst makes instant headlines but not clear policy. Did the Commander in Chief just announce a purge of thousands of active-duty and reserve soldiers? Are we reimplementing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell for the T portion of the LGBT community, to whom he promised to be a better friend than Hillary Clinton?
Using private health insurance claims data to estimate the cost of extending gender transition–related health care coverage to transgender personnel indicated that active-component health care costs would increase by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually, representing a 0.04- to 0.13-percent increase in active-component health care expenditures [Agens Gereben Schaefer et al., “Assessing the Implications of Allowing Transgender Personnel to Serve Openly,” RAND Corporation, 2016].
For comparison, we learned last week that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will cost us $27.5 billion more than we thought last year. The three F-35 models will cost $94.6 million to $122.8 million apiece. That’s tremendous.
Trump also blurbs that transgender soldiers cause “disruption“. The Rand study analyzed the transgender-service policies of Australia, Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom—four of eighteen countries that allow openly transgender soldiers to serve—and found “In no case was there any evidence of an effect on the operational effectiveness, operational readiness, or cohesion of the force.”
Once again, Trump is making claims that are patently false to justify a policy reversal whose only real motivation appears to be his insatiable vindictiveness toward his predecessor.