Deployability will be the determining factor in whether transgender individuals can be admitted into the military under President Donald Trump’s ban, and the average transgender soldier will be unable to deploy for 238 days after sex change surgery due to recovery time, according to a 2016 study.
In 2016, the RAND Corporation conducted a study assessing the implications of allowing transgender personnel to serve openly in the military. The study was commissioned by former President Barack Obama’s administration and funded by the office of former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.
The study sought to address the following research questions:
- What are the health care needs of the transgender population?
- What is the estimated transgender population in the U.S. military?
- How many transgender service members are likely to seek gender transition-related medical treatments?
- What are the costs associated with extending health care coverage for gender transition-related treatments?
- What are the potential readiness implications of allowing transgender service members to serve openly?
- Which DoD policies would need to be changed if transgender service members are allowed to serve openly?
Other key findings
- At the time of the study, there were 1,320-6,630 transgender active service members. The reason for the wide range is that policies on transgender service at that time limited the amount of data. There were approximately 1.3 million active service members in 2016.
- Health care costs would increase by $2.4 to $8.4 million annually (an increase of 0.04 to 0.13 percent) in order to cover gender transition-related health care coverage.
- Estimates indicate between 29 and 129 service members in the active component will seek transition-related care each year that could disrupt their ability to deploy.
The debate surrounding the transgender military ban centers on the question of how disruptive or not disruptive transgender personnel are to budgets and operations.
This study was commissioned by the Obama administration, which lifted the ban on transgender military service in 2016, and it presents facts in a way that supports that administration’s point of view.
Proponents of the transgender ban can point to the additional millions of dollars and months of recovery time for gender transition treatments as a good reason to eliminate or minimize the number of transgender people in the military.
The quantifiable impact of transgender military personnel is still somewhat unclear due to a lack of data, so it will be crucial that more studies and fact-finding are conducted in order for the Trump administration to support its decision, which is likely to be challenged up to and after its implementation by Democrats and other opponents.