ISGMH Reacts to President Trump’s Ban of Transgender Service Members

In his announcement that transgender people will not be “accepted or allowed” in the United States military, President Trump cited “tremendous medical costs” as a key reason.

Research shows, however, that healthcare costs for this group are similar to those of the general population. The exception is for transgender service members who seek gender-transition related healthcare, which could add up to a very small approximately 0.2% increase in military health care expenditures. Inversely, the cost of providing care up front helps prevent future healthcare costs amassed by mental and physical health problems that may arise from lack of care.  Research on the US military has shown that similar policy changes that allowed gay and lesbian personnel to serve openly in the U.S. military have had no significant effect on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.

ISGMH director Brian Mustanski states, “In my 15 years of studying LGBT health, research has shown that discriminatory policies designed to prevent sexual and gender minority people from full participation in society negatively impacts their mental and physical health.” Alternatively, policies that support the equality of LGBT people have been shown to not only benefit the LGBT community but also the general population.