President Donald Trump’s reckless Twitter announcement two weeks ago that he would reinstate the ban on allowing transgender Americans to serve in the military is already wreaking havoc on the lives of transgender troops and their families.
Now, a new report from the Palm Center shows that it could also wreak havoc on the nation’s finances.
According to the report, the total cost of discharging the estimated 15,000 transgender Americans who currently serve our country with distinction would top $960 million—just to enforce discrimination.
When President Trump tweeted that he would reinstate the ban, he focused on cost, specifically the “tremendous medical costs” supposedly incurred by providing transgender service members with the health care they are entitled to as a thanks for their service and sacrifice.
But the Palm Center also estimates the current cost of transition-related health care is only $8.4 million, or a mere $656 per person per year. That’s because, contrary to the President’s assertion, many transgender soldiers do not require transition-related medical once they’re in the military.
The Palm Center report arrives at this figure by taking into account financial data from the Blue Ribbon Commission and the Government Accountability Office, which both studied the cost of discharging servicemembers under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy from the mid-’90s through the late 2000s. These studies found that the Defense Department spent much more to hire and train new servicemembers than it would have if LGBT servicemembers had not been discharged prematurely.
It’s clear from this report that, contrary to the President’s claims, discharging thousands of transgender servicemembers will put a greater financial burden on our armed forces, not less. And this report doesn’t even scratch the surface of the cost of litigation that is likely to mount from this wildly unorthodox implementation of personnel policy—the first of which is already being brought against the Trump Administration by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).
Bottom line: Discriminating against transgender service members by firing them and prohibiting them from enlisting in the U.S. Military poses huge and unnecessary financial burden. Now, transgender troops could face the financial burden of being jobless and cut off from healthcare and other benefits. Meanwhile, the country is slapped with the unwieldy financial burden of having to replace some 15,000 transgender troops seemingly overnight.
But the truth is, the was never about costs. This is about discrimination. And it must stop.