The White House could not say what will happen to transgender people already in the military. President Trump cited costs as his reason for the ban, so we're verifying his claims.
In Trump’s three tweets sent out Wednesday morning banning transgender individuals serving in the military, he included a line that the military “can not be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
The first question we wanted to answer – how many transgender military members are there?
The RAND Corporation, a non-profit think tank that conducts research for the United States Armed Forces undertook that task last summer, right after the Department of Defense opened the military to transgender soldiers.
RAND found an estimated 1320-6630 transgender service members in the active component, but not all will seek gender transition.
Narrowing it down, the non-partisan organization estimated the midrange is 2450 transgender personnel out of 1.3 million total active service members.
The same 2016 study found a much smaller percentage will seek out any procedures.
Estimates derived from survey data indicates between 29 – 129 active service members will seek transition related care that could disrupt their ability to deploy.
So for those who do seek surgical solutions, how large is that burden to health care costs?
We asked Dr. Bardia Amirlak, the medical director of the Plastic Surgery Clinic at UT Southwestern in Dallas.
“If you want to go through the process of seeing all these doctors and completing all the surgery – the cost relative to the costs of other plastic surgeries can be high,” Amirlak said.
Dr. Amirlak adds, for complete male to female or female to male surgical transitions the cost will likely exceed $100,000 per patient, but only a small percentage of transgender individuals will elect to undergo all procedures.
The conclusion from the RAND Corporation: health care costs for transgender military members are estimated to be add an additional $8.4 million annually to military health care spending.
That total accounts for an approximate 0.13 percent of the more than $6 billion annually the military spends on medical care.