Oppose the transgender ban

To the editor:

President Donald Trump would like you to believe his decision to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military is a measure designed to save costs and avoid unit disruption. However, gender has no bearing on the desire to serve as we have thousands of transgender veterans, active duty personnel, and guard or reservists. The Williams Institute at UCLA Law has found that transgender individuals assigned female at birth are nearly three times more likely than all adult women to serve. Transgender individuals assigned male at birth are 1.6 times more likely than all adult men to serve.

The idea that unit cohesion will be shattered is false. Thousands of transgender individuals already serve in our military. The same argument was used against racial integration, women, and LGB individuals. In the 18 countries in which transgender individuals openly serve there is no impact to unit cohesion or readiness. President Trump has cited “tremendous medical costs” as a reason for this ban. Medical costs for treating illness/injury don’t increase because one is transgender. The cost to cover transitional surgery is one-tenth of what the military spends annually on medication for erectile dysfunction. The cost of President Trump spending nearly a third of his time at his Mar-A-Lago and other personal properties is estimated to be between $1 million to $3 million per trip (three to 10 times the cost of transgender medical care).

The cost of recruiting and replacing currently serving transgender personnel is estimated to be $960 million. U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis has stated that he would like to hear from military leaders before determining a position and that everyone “ought to be able to serve in the military.” However, during his campaign Lewis called gender inclusion in the educational system “an abomination.”

This ban wastes a dollar to save a dime and leaves thousands of transgender veterans and service members in limbo regarding their employment, health care, and benefits. If Lewis truly believed in fiscal responsibility and caring for our veterans, his position would be to oppose and denounce this ban.

Austin Ballhagen