Society

Military Spends More On Viagra Than Transgender Troops

| by Robert Fowler
A transgender training course in U.S. Navy Central CommandA transgender training course in U.S. Navy Central Command

President Donald Trump wrote a tweet banning transgender Americans from serving in the U.S. military, asserting that their health care requirements were too costly. The military spends five times as much on erectile dysfunction drug Viagra than it does in medical services for transgender service members.

On July 26, Trump took to social media to announce he would prohibit transgender Americans from serving, just a little over a year after the Pentagon lifted its ban, The New York Times reports.

"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow ... Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," Trump tweeted.

The president asserted the decision was out of financial concern.

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"Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail," Trump added.

In 2016, the Rand Corporation did a study on transgender service members. The report was commissioned by the Department of Defense and found that roughly 2,450 of 1.3 million active service members were transgender. The Rand Corp. estimated that medical costs for transgender military service members would rise between $2.4 million and $8.4 million per year, amounting to a maximum of 0.13 percent spending increases for overall service members’ medical services.

The study estimated that the maximum increase in transgender medical costs would amount to a thousandth of one percent of the Defense Department budget, according to The Washington Post.

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The Rand Corp. report also concluded that allowing transgender Americans to serve in the military would have "little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness or readiness."

Meanwhile, the military spends far more in helping service members treat erectile dysfunction. In February 2015, data from the Defense Health Agency found that the military spent $41.6 million annually to provide service members with Viagra. Overall, the military spent $84 million on medicine to treat erectile dysfunction, according to the Military Times.

In June 2016, former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter lifted the ban on transgender Americans being allowed to openly serve. He had examined the repercussions of revoking the ban for roughly a year, culminating in the Rand Corp. study.

On July 26, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was not yet determined what would happen to the roughly 2,450 transgender Americans who are serving in the military.

"That's something that the Department of Defense and the White House will have to work together as implementation takes place and is done so lawfully," Sanders told ABC News.

Senior staff attorney Joshua Block of the American Civil Liberties Union swiftly blasted the president's decision.

"The thousands of transgender service members serving on the front lines for this country deserve better than a commander in chief who rejects their basic humanity," Block said in a statement.

Sources: ABC News, Military TimesThe New York TimesThe Washington Post / Photo credit: Ryan McLearnon/Wikimedia Commons, Jim Mattis/Flickr, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr

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