Last month's surprise executive order by President Trump banning transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military "in any capacity" was heartbreaking for many. According to Trump, "tremendous medical costs," were a key reason for the ban, a point that has been proved inaccurate by recent studies by the RAND Corporation.
It's unclear how many enlisted members are actually affected by Trump's executive order, since census data doesn't currently identify transgender status. But according to the study, there is between 1,300 and 6,630 individuals that would be affected by the edict. That's a small number when considering the total size of the military -- 1.3 million -- so the president's concern seems confusing when compared to the $138 billion that the government paid out this year for veterans' medical care and the additional $17 billion that Congress is considering right now.
For the purpose of the study, researchers settled on two mid-range numbers for the total estimated transgender members serving in the active military (2,450) and the Selected Reserve (1,510).
It also determined that only a small number of those two groups would actually request gender-transition medical care. Insurance claims suggest that's less than 130 members per year.
Doing the math, researchers found that at the most health care costs would increase between $2.4 million and $ 8.4 million. To put that in perspective, that's less than three Trump golfing weekends in Florida or New York. It's also a drop in the bucket when considering the amount the military pays out for Viagra treatments for troops and veterans.
The Military Times determined in 2015 that the Department of Defense paid more than $41 million for Viagra alone ($84 million for dysfunction treatments in total related to combat-related injuries, including veterans' Agent Orange exposure), knocking the cost of transgender treatment off the table.
Still, those statistics are of little help to transgender individuals who fear for their job security.
And most likely, they'll find things are a bit different in many parts of Corporate America.
According to Human Rights Campaign"s 2015 Corporate Equality Index, 66 percent of Fortune 500 companies don't see LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights in the same vein as the Trump administration. They have already implemented policies to protect against gender discrimination -- and transgender employees are covered under those protections.
HRC's 2017 Corporate Equality Index survey results:
That's good news for both companies and the government's new cadre of LGBT ex-military. "These reflect low-cost, high yield investments in major businesses’ talent as well as in their broader profile as forward-looking, responsible businesses," says HRC.
It also reflects humane and sensible values that will carry businesses forward as American corporations adjust for the country's increasingly diverse workforce.
Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.