Paying for 12,800 estimated military transgender servicemembers to receive hormone treatment would cost the Pentagon just a fraction of its total healthcare budget.
A new paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine argues the final cost would amount to approximately $5.6 million, a finding which the Pentagon will have to take into account while conducting its six-month policy review on integrating transgenders into the military.
The review began July 13 at the behest of Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who has admitted in the past that allowing transgender troops to serve is “not something I’ve studied a lot.”
Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a think tank which focuses on LGBT issues, authored the paper. At its inception, the Palm Center was called the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military before changing its name in 2006.
According to Belkin, the military spends almost $48 billion every year on healthcare, making the cost of transgender hormone treatment essentially negligible. The yearly cost for each transgender servicemember works out to about $438. Whether this is the only cost these servicemembers will impose on the military remains to be seen.
Transgender servicemembers are currently prohibited from serving openly, though even before Carter announced the prospective policy change, which would reverse the long-standing ban, the services attempted to make it much more difficult to discharge these servicemembers.
In June, the Air Force announced that gender dysphoric Airmen could not be discharged except by the director of the Air Force Review Boards Agency. The Army implemented a similar policy in March.
Few Republicans have stood in the way of the administration. The best the Republican side could muster came from GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe, who stated that although he has no immediate plans to block transgender integration, he is curious about which bathroom transgendered individuals will have the right to use.
The American Medical Association also declared in June that no valid medical reasons prevent transgender troops from serving. But Dr. Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, argued in an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal that growing acceptance of transgender as a legitimate identity among governments is wrongheaded.“
”Sex change” is biologically impossible,” McHugh wrote. “People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.”