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Toupée-in-Chief is at it again. Only this time, it’s a lot more than an idiot's refusal to acknowledge Pride Month; on top of everything else the twatwaffle has said and done.
Millions awoke Wednesday morning to the news that thousands of transgender American citizens who served under threat of being outed and discharged long before the Department of Defense saw fit to welcome them, would again be banned from serving their country.
In typical Trump fashion, POTUS made the announcement on Twitter — because how else are you supposed to declare your douchery than in under 140 characters — citing the "tremendous" cost of providing healthcare coverage to trans folks.
That's pretty funny considering the DoD has spent an estimated $84.24 million on Viagra and other erectile dysfunction medications.
From a piece published by the Military Times:
“According to data from the Defense Health Agency, DoD actually spent $41.6 million on Viagra — and $84.24 million total on erectile dysfunction prescriptions — last year.”
Compare this to gender confirmation surgery and other health-related costs for trans troops incurred by the DoD, according to a 2016 survey by RAND Corporation:
“Using private health insurance data on transition-related treatment costs, the study found that Military Health System costs would increase by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million per year if it were to extend this care to transgender personnel. This amount represents an exceedingly small proportion of active component health care expenditures (0.038–0.134 percent of approximately $6 billion in spending in FY 2014) and overall DoD health care expenditures (0.005–0.017 percent of $49.3 billion in actual expenditures for the FY 2014 Unified Medical Program).”
But at a whopping 10% of DoD expenditures for ED drugs, healthcare coverage for transgender service members is a "disruption".
So for the record:
President Obama lifted a longstanding ban last June — years after the arduous process of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". As then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced:
"Our mission is to defend this country, and we don't want barriers unrelated to a person's qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or marine who can best accomplish the mission. We have to have access to 100% of America's population for our all-volunteer force to be able to recruit from among them the most highly qualified, and to be able to retain them.
#Throwback to a coherent U.S. presidential administration!
Although relatively few in number, we're talking about talented and trained Americans who are serving their country with honor and distinction.
We want to take the opportunity to retain people whose talent we've invested in and who've proven themselves."
Reports vary on the number of transgender service members in the U.S. military. Secretary Carter cites the same RAND survey that looked at Viagra expenditures to give a rough estimate of enlisted transgender servicemembers.
Combining survey evidence from multiple states and adjusting for the male/female distribution in the military provided midrange estimates of 2,450 transgender personnel in the active component and 1,510 in the Selected Reserve.
At its top end, RAND's estimates of roughly 7,000 active duty members and 4,000 in reserves come closer to figures UCLA's Williams Institute published in a 2014 research brief:
[A]n estimated 134,000 transgender individuals are veterans or are retired from Guard or Reserve service, 8,800 transgender adults are currently on active duty in the U.S. armed forces, and an estimated 6,700 transgender individuals are serving in the Guard or Reserve forces.
The Associated Press obtained a memo that Trump Administration Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued to service chiefs and secretaries in late June. It reads in part:
After consulting with the service chiefs and secretaries, I have determined that it is necessary to defer the start of accessions for six months. We will use this additional time to evaluate more carefully the impact of such accessions on readiness and lethality.
I get that summer seems to make time fly, but I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been six months yet.
Or is my math off?
In a White House press briefing Wednesday, newly minted press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders remarked:
The president has expressed concerns since this Obama policy came into effect, but he's also voiced that this is a very expensive and disruptive policy, and based on consultation that he's had with his national security team, came to the conclusion that it erodes military readiness and unit cohesion made the decision based on that.
Sanders also tried to shut down questions on the matter, going so far as to threaten calling an early end to the press briefing.
Looks like Spicer’s not the only one struggling to keep up with the press, but hey that turned out alright for him, didn’t it?
Answer: No, no it did not.
When it comes down to it, the President's tweets do not actually equate a binding document to be followed. DoD officials have publicly refused to do anything until they get either a clarification from Trump or a direct request for policy change, according to Politico who obtained a memo from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
In it, Marine General Joe Dunford told U.S. military leadership that there would be “no modifications” to DoD policy regarding trans service members without orders passed from Trump through Mattis to the DoD.
I know there are questions about yesterday's announcement on the transgender policy by the President. There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President's direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance.
Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White echoed the statement in an official press release.
The Department of Defense is awaiting formal guidance from the White House as a follow-up to the commander-in-chief's announcement on military service by transgender personnel. We will provide detailed guidance to the department in the near future for how this policy change will be implemented. The department will continue to focus on our mission of defending our nation and on-going operations against our foes, while ensuring all service members are treated with respect.
And yet all figures aside, if anyone is willing to fight and risk their lives for a country that seems to be split between embracing and hating them, why the hell shouldn’t transgender people be allowed to serve?
Rebecca Costello is a twenty-one year old English Major interested in delving into the field of literature and screenwriting. She was previously both Editor and Nonfiction Editor for her college's annual literary magazine and is currently knee-deep in Saskatchewan history, working full-time in a historical museum for the summer. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.