President Donald Trump said Thursday that he did the military a big favor by banning transgender troops, despite the fact he never consulted the Pentagon before making his announcement, leaving thousands of transgender service members’ fates uncertain.
“It’s been a very complicated issue for the military, it’s been a very confusing issue for the military, and I think I’m doing the military a great favor,” Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he’s in the middle of a 17-day vacation.
But despite Trump’s claims in his Twitter decree that he had based his decision on "consultation with his Generals and military experts," the leader of the Coast Guard came out against the decision and 56 retired generals and admirals have since warned Trump that banning transgender troops would degrade military readiness.
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After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
Trump’s announcement last month that he would ban transgender troops from serving blindsided the Pentagon and it has been referring questions from the media to the White House.
As for Trump’s comment that he’s doing the military a “great favor?” While it’s impossible to get a completely accurate tally on the number of transgender troops currently serving in the military, the military’s own estimates put the number somewhere between 1,320 and 6,630. To discharge the transgender troops would cost almost $1 billion — $960 million to be exact, according to the Palm Center, an independent research institute.
Assertions the move would save medical costs have also been debunked — in the worst-case scenario the medical costs to the government for transgender troops would be less than a thousandth of 1 percent of the Defense Department’s total yearly budget. which was $523.9 billion last year, according to a study, conducted by the nonprofit global policy think tank Rand Corp.
Trump’s snap decision, a Politico report suggested, might have been a ploy to appease House conservatives so they would pass a spending bill that included money to build Trump’s border wall — a wall he initially said Mexico would pay for.
Trump, however, didn’t play his cards quite right — House Republicans were just asked him to declare his opposition to using federal funds for costly gender reassignment surgeries for transgender troops, but Trump went a step beyond and instead said they would be prohibited from serving altogether.