On Friday, President Donald Trump directed the military to not move forward with the implementation of a plan from former President Obama which would have allowed the military to recruit transgender individuals for service.
This follows a series of tweets from President Trump about a month earlier announcing that transgenders would no longer be able to serve in the United States Military.
The presidential directive also prohibits the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security from using their resources to provide sex-change surgeries for transgender people.
Trump also directed both departments “to determine how to address transgender individuals currently serving based on military effectiveness and lethality, unitary cohesion, budgetary constraints, applicable law, and all factors that may be relevant,” according to a White House official.
Full gender transition involves expensive hormone treatments, breast surgery (removal or implants),
other cosmetic surgery, genital reconstruction, and a change of personal identification.30 The surgical
procedures are not always successful and can be extremely painful.31 A lifetime of hormone treatments
can also have profound physical and psychological consequences.32 Psychiatrist Jon Meyer concluded
that “surgery is not a proper treatment for a psychiatric disorder”33, and Lawrence Mayer and Paul
McHugh point out that “adults who have undergone sex-reassignment surgery continue to have a
higher risk of experiencing poor mental health outcomes.”34 High rates of suicide exist even after
surgery, which suggests that suicidal tendencies result from an underlying pathology.35The story of America’s most famous transgender service member tends to reinforce concerns that such
individuals are not fit for military service. Bradley Manning is the soldier who was arrested in 2010 and
charged with releasing over 700,000 confidential documents to the website Wikileaks. In 2013, Manning
was convicted on 21 counts, including seven counts of espionage.36Prior to his arrest, Manning had done little to conceal his own homosexuality, and his anger over the socalled
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law against open homosexuality in the military appears to have been one
of the motives for his massive security leak.37 As early as 2009, a supervisor noticed Manning’s
“instability,” and he received a mental health screening but no therapy.38 It was Manning’s own
attorneys, at a preliminary hearing, who revealed that Manning was also suffering from gender identity
disorder.39The day after Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for his crimes, however, he “came out” as
transgendered, announcing in a statement a new name and gender: “I am Chelsea Manning. I am a
female … I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.”40 After initially refusing Manning’s
request, in February 2015 the Army reversed its position and approved taxpayer-funded hormone
treatment for the imprisoned soldier.41
Family Research Council has now undertaken its own analysis of the potential costs of permitting people
who identify as transgender to serve in the military, and has concluded they could total as much as $1.9
to $3.7 billion (not million, as in the RAND study) over the next ten years. This total includes both direct
medical costs and the cost of potential lost time of deployable service. (The additional administrative
costs of preparing and overseeing individualized care plans for each service member who identifies as
transgender, the costs of training the entire force regarding the new policy, and the loss of time
associated with that training, have not been included in these estimates.)