Trump Cites 'Tremendous Costs' for Transgender Servicemembers, When Military Spends Five Times More on Erectile Dysfunction Pills

Trump announced a ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military Wednesday morning.

Photo Credit: i viewfinder/Shutterstock

President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that transgender people would be banned from serving in the U.S. military, claiming that their service in the armed forces incurs “tremendous medical costs.”

Despite Trump’s claim, presented without any evidence, analysis from the Washington Post shows that the military actually spends more money on erectile dysfunction medicine. In addition, a 2016 study commissioned by the Department of Defense paints a different picture of how much it would cost for the military to serve the medical needs of transgender people.

Conducted by the Rand Corporation, the study estimated that costs for gender transition-related medical treatment and hormone treatments would cost roughly between $2.4 million and $8.4 million per year. The study concluded that allowing transgender people to openly serve in the military would “would have a minimal impact on readiness and health care costs.”

In contrast, according to analysis by the Military Times, the military spends a total of $84 million annually on these types of medicines—roughly 10 times more than what the Rand study estimated. The analysis found that the military spends $41.6 million per year just on Viagra, which is five times more than transition-related medical care for transgender military members.

The upper estimates of the Rand study would barely make a dent in the Defense Department’s already inflated and ever-increasing budget. In May, the Pentagon received an additional $15 billion in funding through a spending bill. Trump, an ardent supporter of the military who has lobbied for increased funding to the armed forces, then proposed a budget request of $639.1 billion for the Department of Defense.

Trump’s announcement is an insult to every transgender person serving in the U.S. military today. A study conducted by the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles’ School of Law found that transgender Americans are twice as likely to serve in the military than their cisgender peers. In the survey, 20 percent of transgender people served in the military compared to 10 percent of cisgender people.

If the president truly cared about costs incurred by the U.S. military, he would question the $84 million spent to treat erectile dysfunction or downscale the military's bloated budget. Trump has done neither, revealing his claim of "tremendous costs" for supporting transgender military members is nothing but a facade for legitimizing transphobia.

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Celisa Calacal is a journalist from Los Angeles. She is a writing fellow for the Independent Media Institute and a news intern with KCUR in Kansas City. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Ithaca College, where she worked as an editor and reporter for the Ithacan. Her writing has appeared in ThinkProgress, AlterNet, and Salon. Follow Celisa on Twitter @celisa_mia.