The Real Cost of Trump's Trans Military Ban


The forces of evil unleashed in the Trump Era seem overwhelming. They are attacking the very basic foundations of the letter and spirit of America’s Democratic Republic and the promise of our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. This past weekend we witnessed the empowerment of Racism as embodied by White nationalists, the KKK, anti-Semites, fascists and Neo Nazis, many wearing Trump MAGA hats, to bully, hurt and kill anyone who was not one of them or did not stand with them, the “superior race”!

They, like the religious fascists who while espousing traditional family values, god and country, have united to elect a proud in your face philanderer, sociopathic liar, cheat and draft dodger. Trump has been consistently delivering for them as he gave them Neil Gorsuch, who as a youth was an open supporter of Fascism, and delivered again when he announced in a morning tweet barely a couple of weeks ago that he, in the interest of saving money, was firing all transgender military personal, discarding perhaps 15,000 volunteer patriots!

Saving money? Who is kidding who? This is pure bigotry and it comes at a huge cost to America, to all of us on many different levels, both directly and indirectly. Unlike Rex Tillerson who told the people in Guam that they should sleep well tonight, perhaps like the folks in Charlottlesville, Virginia we all should feel less safe from enemies both foreign and domestic.

So let’s keep it simple and just look at the costs associated with Trump’s dumping of trans troops.

In early August in a prompt yet scholarly response to Trumps transphopic tweets of July 26 that transgender individuals cannot serve in the armed forces because our military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs,”, a group of current and retired professors at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey issued a report projecting that President Trump’s proposed ban on transgender military members would cost $960 million.

While some estimate the number of transgender troops to be around 15,500, the Naval professors’ report estimates there are 12,800 transgender service members currently serving. The report finds that discharging and replacing those 12,800 troops would cost over 100 times more than providing them with transition-related health care.

Referring to a generally accepted 2015 estimate by the RAND Corporation on the actual cost of hormones and gender confirmation surgeries, the report concluded that “Fully implementing President Trump’s ban would cost $960 million in pursuit of saving $8.4 million per year.”

The Naval professors’ report published by the Palm Center uses a “replacement-cost method” to calculate the overall cost of ousting transgender troops. It is a reasonable assumption that military would have to recruit and train thousands of people just to replace those who would be forcibly discharged under a ban, therefore the total price must include the costs of adequately training their replacements. The professors used an average per-person cost of recruiting and training a replacement for each service member who is discharged of $75,000. $75,000, We will come back to that very conservative number.

But wait, there’s more!

After reading the Palm Center report Brigadier Gen. David Brahms USMC ret. observed that “The cost estimates are not even close.”

He predicted that there will be law suits, expensive lawsuits. In fact LGBT legal groups have already initiated a lawsuit seeking to enjoin enforcement of the ban. The National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders on behalf of five anonymous transgender service members identified as “Jane Doe.” Filed a 15-page complaint last Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Although the Pentagon has said there would be “no modifications” to transgender service until further guidance from the White House, the lawsuit — known as Doe v. Trump — maintains Trump’s announcement “upset the reasonable expectations of plaintiffs and thousands of other transgender service members and the men and women with whom they serve and fight.”

“Execution of the president’s directive will result in an end to service by openly transgender service members and has already resulted in immediate, concrete injury to plaintiffs by unsettling and destabilizing plaintiffs’ reasonable expectation of continued service,” the lawsuit says.

This undermining of transgender service members’ expectation of continued military service amounts to a violation of the right to equal protection and due process under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the lawsuit alleges.

“Also violated by the intent to ban transgender people from the U.S. armed forces, the complaint says, is the legal doctrine of estoppel — a legal doctrine against making assertions contradictory to a previously held position. Trump’s transgender military ban violates estoppel, the lawsuit says, because the Obama administration assured transgender people the ability to serve last year by lifting the medical regulation barring their service.

The complaint seeks a declaration Trump’s proposed ban on transgender military service is unconstitutional and an injunction barring it from going into effect.

Shannon Minter, a transgender legal expert and an author of legislation that has withstood constitutional challenges and legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in a statement “the harms of Trump’s proposal to ban transgender military service are already clear.”

“Trump’s directive to exclude transgender people from military service has created a tidal wave of harms that have already been felt throughout our armed services,” Minter said. “Transgender service members have been blindsided by this shift and are scrambling to deal with what it means for their futures and their families. The president’s mistreatment of these dedicated troops will serve only to weaken and demoralize our armed forces.”

In addition to lawsuit filed by GLAD and the National Center Lesbian Rights against Trump’s anti-trans military policy, The Washington Blade has reported that both Lambda Legal and the LGBT military group OutServe-SLDN have also pledged to take Trump to court over the ban.

General Brahms stressed that most importantly, “you can’t replace an active duty service member with 10 years of experience with a newbie fresh out of basic training.” “Readiness will suffer. The cost of schooling to bring a newbie up to speed over time will be expensive.” In fact it is well known that transgender personnel are serving as pilots, Special Forces, officers, leaders, and in highly specialized and important positions. That $75,000 figure seems puny as we begin to scratch the surface. One of the plaintiffs is an active duty airman who has served in the U.S. Air Force for almost 20 years and has undertaken multiple tours of duty abroad, including two in Iraq.

Just consider the cost of the two 2017 service academy graduates who are unable to serve now . . . how much have taxpayers already invested in their education to qualify and prepare them to serve and defend America and then just turn them away? How foolish, wasteful and hurtful!

I cannot help but think of now retired infantry SGM Jennifer Long who received multiple decorations including a bronze star for combat valor in her last tour in Afghanistan while in the midst of her officially stealth medical transition. At the end of her last overseas tour she retired , unable to come out at that time. One can only imagine the cost to replace the skills, the schooling and experience of a nearly 30 year outstanding career where on certain missions she reported directly to a 3 star General!

General Brahms reminded me that the VA benefits to deal with the service-connected trauma of being fired will be costly. Would Trump go after VA benefits? More lawsuits?

Firing competent troops will create a significant loss of credibility of the military that will be significant and fewer will volunteer. What effect will this have on gays, lesbians, Jews, Muslims, Hispanics, any other minorities? Who will be next?

Brahms noted that the pool of eligibles in the prime recruiting cohort (17-24 year-olds) is already small. It is estimated that a significant majority of that group is ineligible by reason of a lack of education, a criminal conviction or obesity. If that cohort is further limited, what alternatives are left, downsize or reduce qualifications?

Lastly, what about existing minorities already serving who don’t fit into Trumps white nationalist base. Will they stay, will they be next?

Putin is smiling!

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