Donald Trump announced last month he planned to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. He predictably explained his decision via Twitter, claiming the country could not afford the “tremendous medical costs” of these service members; however, a new report projects the price of implementing Trump’s proposed ban would be at $960 million—100 times more than the cost of trans healthcare.
The report, which was published by the Palm Center, was co-authored by current and retired professors at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. They came up with the estimate using simple math: multiplying the number of trans military service members (12,800) by the average cost ($75,000) of recruiting and training a replacement for each trans person who would be discharged. A 2016 RAND Corporation report estimates transition-related health care costs the military between $2.4 and $8.4 million annually, which is less than 1 percent of its overall health care budget.
“If President Trump is truly concerned about the financial costs of transgender service, his announced ban has it exactly backwards,” said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center and a co-author of the report. “American taxpayers should ask the president, who is proud of his business savvy, why he’s spending a dollar to buy a dime.”
On Wednesday, two advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against Trump for the proposed ban. The National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders filed the suit on behalf of five active duty transgender service members, according to CNN. The plaintiffs claim a ban on transgender military personnel is unconstitutional, as it would violate the equal protection and due process clauses in the Bill of Rights. Furthermore, the service members’ attorneys argue Trump’s announcement of the ban has already “resulted in immediate, concrete injury to plaintiffs by unsettling and destabilizing plaintiffs' reasonable expectation of continued service.”
The White House has not revealed any details on how the ban would be implemented.