Military spends 10 times as much on erectile dysfunction as it would on transgender medical care

Is Trump going to ban soldiers who take Viagra next?

CREDIT: iStockPhoto/nito100
CREDIT: iStockPhoto/nito100

Wednesday morning, President Trump announced that he would unilaterally ban transgender people from serving in the military, effectively kicking some 15,000 people out of their jobs and barring far more from ever serving. One of the primary reasons, he claimed, was “tremendous medical costs.”

Let’s put those costs in perspective.

Journalist Jenna Ruddock highlighted on Twitter that the military already covers the cost of Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs. Current military spending on erectile dysfunction drugs is about ten times higher than the estimated costs for the military to cover transition-related surgeries and other treatment.

The Military Times previously reported that in 2014, the Defense Department spent a total of $84.24 million on erectile dysfunction prescriptions. Of that, $41.6 million was specifically spent on Viagra. According to the Defense Health Agency, between 2004 and 2013, the number of servicemembers diagnosed with erectile dysfunction doubled, the equivalent of approximately 10,000 new diagnoses each year.

Comparatively, the RAND Corporation estimated that allowing transgender people to serve in the military would raise defense health spending between $2.4 million and $8.4 million, an increase of 0.04–0.13 percent in expenditures.

Transition-related care is medically necessary for transgender people, but does not impede their ability to serve.