President Donald Trump took to Twitter last week to announce that he was banning transgender people from serving in the military, blaming "medical costs and disruption." In a series of tweets, President Trump claimed that the decision was made under the advice of "[his] Generals and military experts."
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
But in the days that followed, the Pentagon announced that the tweets were first they'd heard of the proposal, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were quick to follow. A week later, they're still waiting on official word from the White House, saying that a tweet is not an order.
Many also speculated that the "burden" of transgender service people was overstated. A Defense Department-commissioned study suggested that medical treatment for transgender service members would cost the military between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually, while, for perspective, the military spends $84 million on erectile dysfunction medicine every year.
In response to the proposed ban, Dr. Christine McGinn, a trans woman and Navy veteran, is offering to provide gender affirming surgeries to military personnel for free if they can't get funding confirmed by the Pentagon.
The navy surgeon who now conducts gender affirming surgeries in New Hope, Pennsylvania, told CNN:
“If the commander-in-chief won’t take care of our veterans, our veterans will. Yes, I will do surgery for free on the number of people that I have already lined up for surgery.”
“I think it’s being twisted and spun to make it seem like [trans care’s cost] would be more than it is. I think the cost of getting rid of very well specialized, trained military service people is exponentially larger than just taking care of them.”
McGinn served at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station, where she was nominated as flight surgeon of the year for the U.S. Navy. She was also quick to point out that the cost of dismissing the 2,450 and 15,500 transgender people that serve in the military would be far greater than paying for their medical expenses. She pointed out that her training alone cost around $1.5 million.