Transgender Policy Could Cost Military Billions Over Ten YearsBy Peter Sprigg Senior Fellow for Policy Studies
On July 1, 2016, without any systematic study of the consequences, the Obama administration reversed longstanding policies that excluded those who identify as transgender from serving in the U.S. military on both psychological and medical grounds.[i] As of that date, the armed services stopped discharging existing service members who suffer from gender dysphoria (unhappiness with their biological sex at birth) or who seek gender reassignment surgery, and as of October 1, 2016, began providing medical services to aid in their “transition” to living as the opposite gender.
Phase 2 of this policy—allowing persons who identify as transgender to join the military—was scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2017. Despite the election of Donald Trump as President, the new administration has, at this writing, done nothing to reverse or delay implementation of this policy.
Family Research Council has concerns about the psychological fitness of persons who identify as transgender to serve (because of high levels of psychopathology within that population[ii]), and about the effect of allowing people to present themselves as the opposite of their biological sex on good order and discipline, readiness, recruitment, and retention.[iii] However, in addition to these concerns, there are specific costs that will be associated with allowing people who identify as transgender to serve, such as particular medical issues associated with the practices of gender reassignment surgery and hormone replacement therapy.
It is difficult to estimate these costs due to numerous unanswered questions. For example, we cannot know with certainty how many persons suffering with gender dysphoria are already in the military; how many will seek a military career as a result of the change of policy; or what percentage of those will seek hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery, or other related medical or surgical procedures.
[i] “Department of Defense Press Briefing by Secretary Carter on Transgender Service Policies,” U.S. Department of Defense, June 30, 2016,
[ii] For example, see: Cecilia Dhejne, et al., “Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden,” PLOS ONE 6 (2011): e16885, accessed June 28, 2017, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0016885.
[iii] For example, a court in 1988 ruled that cross-dressing on a military installation would “virtually always be prejudicial to good order and discipline and discrediting to the Armed Forces.” United States v. Davis, 26 M.J. 445 (C.M.A.), 1988; cited in Tarynn M. Witten, Gender Identity and the Military - Transgender, Transsexual, and Intersex-identified Individuals in the U.S. Armed Forces, Michael D. Palm Center, University of California, Santa Barbara, February 2007, 13,