Transgender military personnel transition costs questioned

The military is continuing to weigh whether or not they will be allowing transgender members of the service to serve openly, which bring up all of the other details in what doing so would mean.

So far, the path for transgender individuals in the military has been set for them. Gender discrimination in the military has not been effectively addressed and transgender individuals can still be discharged from duty because of their gender identity, according to Clapway.

But there are in fact already thousands of transgender people serving in the military. But they’re not “allowed” to talk about it openly, similar to the battle not so far past of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” campaign in which the military, with eyes wide open, just turned away when it came to gay men and women serving.

But along with considering whether or not to “let” transgender people serve openly, there has also been an analysis as to how much transition care would cost the military a year.

At this time, the total cost to cover the healthcare needs of transgender troops is estimated to be around $5.6 million a year, which is an extremely minimal amount for the Department of Defense.

As of right now, there are currently about 12,800 transgender people serving in the U.S. military. But after further research, it was estimated that only about 188 people would be seeking full transition healthcare a year.

The cost for hormone therapy, surgery or both, could cost about $30,000 per person spread out over an estimated six-and-half years. With all information gathered and analyzed, the sum for trans healthcare would be about 22 cents per service member per month. To put that number in perspective, the military’s annual healthcare budget is $47.8 billion.

With research backed by an academic at San Francisco State University, Aaron Belkin, the fact is that transgender people are twice as likely as the rest of the population to actually enlist in the military.

“This is possibly because many transgender women – those born male but identifying as female – seek to prove to themselves that they are not transgender by joining the military and trying to fit into its hypermasculine culture,” Belkin said.

So why isn’t the military encouraging one of their most enlisted populations to not only openly serve, but help them to do so in their true identity?

At this time, the topic is on the table for all current candidates for the presidential nomination to discuss, and if the cost to provide transition-related care to transgender people serving in the military could be “too low to warrant consideration in the current policy debate,” which could lead to several negative repercussions.

“There are costs, in other words, of not providing transition-related care, due to potential medical and psychological consequences of its denial, paired with the requirement to live a closeted life,” according to the report.

It was just last month when defense chief Ash Carter announced that the U.S. military was considering a plan that would support transgender people to serve openly in the armed forces. But the repeal of the ban raised questions everywhere on who would be making the money available for the medical costs of surgery and other gender transition-related treatment.

Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee openly made his stance on the issue very clear: “I’m not sure how paying for transgender surgery for soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines makes our country safer.”

The movement now to openly admit transgender people into the military was ignited by the high-profile case of male to female transitioned Chelsea Manning, who is not serving a 35-year prison term for disclosing state secrets on WikiLeaks.


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