The Military Spends More on Viagra Than It Would on Medical Care for Trans People

So let's put things in perspective, shall we?

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On Wednesday morning, President Trump announced on Twitter that he was instituting a ban on transgender members of the military. The armed forces "cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender [people] in the military would entail," he wrote. But just how "tremendous" are those costs, really?

People reports that the medical costs associated with transgender soldiers are pretty minimal when you look at the big picture. A study conducted last year by the Rand Corporation estimated that there are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender people on active duty, and between 830 and 4,160 trans people in the reserves. And within that group, Rand estimated that only 29 to 129 service members on active duty would be seeking any gender transition-related medical care in a given year.

After crunching the numbers using health insurance data, the study estimates that the military's medical costs would increase by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million each year. And yes, that sounds like a lot, but not when you factor in the big picture. When you factor in the military's Unified Medical Program spending, it would amount to 0.005 to 0.017 percent of spending. A separate study in the New England Journal of Medicine noted that treating trans soldiers amounts to "little more than a rounding error" in the military's budget.

Now let's compare these numbers to other government expenditures. NBC News reports that when President Trump travels from Washington to Mar-a-Lago in Florida, the trip costs anywhere from $1 million to $3 million. And he has spent seven weekends there so far during his presidency.

Another major government expenditure? Viagra. According to the Washington Post, the total military spending on erectile dysfunction is $84 million each year, and $41.6 million of that goes to Viagra alone.

Meanwhile, the military is funding the F-35 jet program, the most expensive U.S. weapons program ever, which is costing $406.5 billion, according to Bloomberg. So let's not pretend this decision is just about the bottom line.

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