A new report by current and retired professors at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey projects that President Trump’s proposed ban on transgender military members would cost $960 million.
Unlike some prior reports that estimate the number of transgender troops to be around 15,500, the Naval professors’ report estimates there are 12,800 transgender service members currently serving. The report finds that discharging and replacing those 12,800 troops would cost over 100 times more than providing them with transition-related health care.
“Fully implementing President Trump’s ban would cost $960 million in pursuit of saving $8.4 million per year,” the report concludes, the latter figure referring to an estimate by the RAND Corporation on the actual cost of hormones and gender confirmation surgeries.
The Naval professors’ report uses a “replacement-cost method” to calculate the overall cost of ousting transgender troops. Since the military would have to recruit and train thousands of people just to replace those who would be forcibly discharged under a ban, the total price has to take into account the costs of training replacements.
President Trump previously cited the “tremendous medical costs” of providing adequate care as justification for the ban, as well as the idea that transgender people suffering from or receiving medical care for gender dysphoria become undeployable, which hurts military readiness.
Five transgender soldiers are currently suing over the proposed ban, arguing that it contradicts the judgment of military experts, is unconstitutional because it singles out a certain group for discrimination, and serves no legitimate purpose.
“If President Trump is truly concerned about the financial costs of transgender service, his announced ban has it exactly backwards,” Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center and a co-author of the new report, said in a statement. “American taxpayers should ask the president, who is proud of his business savvy, why he’s spending a dollar to buy a dime.”