Donald Trump struggles to explain transgender military ban in Piers Morgan interview
Donald Trump has attempted to defend his ban on transgender people serving in the US military.
The US president was questioned over his policy an interview with Good Morning Britain on Wednesday (June 5) while on a state visit to the UK.
Donald Trump claims transgender soldiers take ‘massive amounts of drugs’
Asked about his 2017 decision to ban transgender troops from openly serving in the military, Trump claimed: “They take massive amounts of drugs, they have to. And you’re not allowed to take drugs, you know, in the military you’re not allowed to take any drugs, take an aspirin.
“They have to, after the operation, they have no choice, they have to. You would actually have to break rules and regulations in order to have that.”
Pressed on why he was enacting an anti-transgender policy while claiming to support LGBT+ rights, the president responded: “It is what it is. Look, also people were going in and then asking for the operation, and the operation is $250,000 dollars.
“The recovery period is long, and they have to take large amounts of drugs after that… and you can’t do that. I said, when it came time to make a decision on that, because of the drugs and the cost of the operation.”
‘You have to have a standard and you have to stick by that standard.’
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) June 5, 2019
There is no US military regulation that prohibits prescribed hormone treatments or aspirin.
Gender confirmation surgery within the military is rare, and not performed while troops are on active deployment.
When host Piers Morgan pointed out that transgender service people had won medals for bravery, Trump responded: “I’m proud of them, I think it’s great, but you have to have a standard and you have to stick by that standard.
“We have a great military and I want to keep it that way. But you have very strict rules and they blow it out of the water.”
Pentagon data contradicts Trump’s claims
The leader’s claims about surgery and the burden of the cost of treating trans troops contradict the Pentagon’s own evaluation of the issue.
US Department of Defense analysis published in February showed that just 0.0003 percent of the military’s annual budget was going towards surgery for trans troops, with an estimated $2 million expenditure.
Just 17 genital surgery procedures have been performed since 2016, alongside 37 hysterectomies, four breast augmentations and 103 breast reductions.
Former Pentagon official Brad Carson, who served as Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness until 2016, told USA Today that the cost is so marginal that it “is dwarfed by the treatment cost of virtually any ache and pain you can think of.”
It is far less than the $84 million spent annually by the military on Viagra and erectile dysfunction medication, and the $437 million spent annually on military bands.
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The expenditure on trans troops is also likely less than the Trump administration’s expenditure to-date waging legal battles over the ban on trans troops.
A spokesperson for GLAAD said: “This is a disingenuous excuse in attempt to cover for a shortsighted and cruel policy, President Donald Trump.”
In September, a book alleged that Trump fumed at transgender soldiers getting “clipped” after a briefing on the issue, before announcing the ban on Twitter.