Energy Secretary Rick Perry is the latest member of the Trump administration to publicly defend the president’s arbitrary ban on transgender people serving in the military.
“I totally support the president in his decision,” Perry told reporters Friday, according to the Texas Tribune. “The idea that the American people need to be paying for these types of operations to change your sex is not very wise from a standpoint of economics.”
“I think the president makes some good decisions about making sure that we have a force that is capable,” Perry went on to say.
When President Donald Trump announced the ban on Twitter this past Wednesday, he claimed that covering transgender people’s medical expenses would be cost-prohibitive for the military. That’s despite the fact that the military spends far more on erectile dysfunction medication, or simply protecting Trump when he visits Mar-a-Lago, than the negligible amount projected for trans medical costs.
Asked by reporters about this apparent contradiction, Perry was dismissive: “You know what, I don’t check on the price of Viagra.”
Perry has a long history of opposing LGBTQ equality, including defending Texas’s sodomy law, comparing homosexuality to alcoholism, opposing marriage equality, and opposing making the Boy Scouts of America gay-inclusive.
This is also not the first time Perry, an Air Force veteran, has weighed in on military personnel issues. In 2012, he ran an iconic presidential campaign ad decrying the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”—a Clinton-era policy that barred LGBTQ people from serving openly.
For the time being, Trump’s decision exists in Tweet form only, and the military is not yet enforcing it. But the administration has defended it as if it’s already in place.
At press briefings, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has repeatedly insisted the White House will work with the Pentagon on its implementation, even though the Pentagon says it has yet to receive any actual directions.
Sebastian Gorka, the controversial deputy assistant to the president on national security matters, has also claimed that firing thousands of transgender servicemembers is for their own good.