A new study published earlier this month in the New England Journal of Medicine should dispel financial worries about allowing transgenders in military troops.

As the Pentagon moves to allow transgender people to serve in the U.S. military, debate has risen concerning the potential specialized healthcare they might require. This new study shows that the total cost of providing transition-related healthcare to transgender troops would be $5.6 million per year.

While that’s a high number, taken in the context of the entire U.S. military budget, it’s almost microscopic. The Defense Department’s annual healthcare budget currently sits at around $48 billion. When placed against this number, the potential $5.6 million required for transgender troops amounts to less than one-hundredth of a percent.

“Under any plausible estimation method, the costs are minimal,” Aaron Belkin, the study’s author, said in a statement. “Having analyzed the cost that the military will incur by providing transition-related care, I am convinced that it is too low to warrant consideration in the current policy debate.”

One of the criticisms being leveraged against this move is that the military will become a “magnet employer” for those seeking free health care. Belkin, however, denies this as a possibility, noting that the military has grown smaller over the years and that the Australian military has seen no negative impact from implementing the same reform.

According to the study, over roughly the past four years, 13 out of 58,000 total Australian troops underwent gender transition surgery. This averages out to around 1 soldier per 11,154 a year. In the United States, that ratio would be around 192 soldiers undergoing gender transition surgery annually out of a total 2,136,779 troops.

“What the research shows is that if you’re going to lift the ban, it doesn’t make sense to do so unless you also provide medically-necessary care,” Belkin said.

Alexander Jones

Sources: Nejm, USA Today, Wall Street Journal
Photo: Russia Insider