Lifting a Pentagon ban on transgender people serving openly in the military presents few hurdles — including on the budget, morale, or military readiness, a study commissioned by Defense Secretary Ash Carter reportedly concludes.
The RAND Corp. study finds, however, leaving the policy in place could pose "adverse consequences," the New York Times reports
The study completed last March estimates 2,450 of the 1.2 million active duty members are transgender and that 65 service members seek a gender transition every year, the Times reports.
Carter signaled last July he'd be open to ending the ban on transgender service members openly serving; the RAND study was asked to examine the consequences, the Times reports.
But implementing a new policy for transgender military members has been delayed because of disagreements within the Defense Department
on how to proceed.
The Times said it received a copy of the report from an unnamed source.
According to the study, covering the healthcare costs of military seeking transition procedures would run between $2.9 million and $4.2 million — a small slice of the $6 billion spent on medical costs for active-duty service members.
Not doing so would result in higher rates of substance abuse and suicide, the report finds.
"Adverse consequences of not providing transition-related health care to transgender personnel could include avoidance of other necessary health care such as important preventive services, increased rates of mental and substance use disorders, suicide, and reduced productivity," the report states.
Yet, the study states, the Department of Defense "will need to establish policies of when individuals may use the uniforms, physical standards, and facilities (e.g. barracks, restrooms) of their target gender" — as well as mental health screening for transgender service members on their readiness before deployment.
Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies , who read the report, tells the Times the reports shows that "there does not appear to be any justifiable reason to continue the military's policy of discrimination against transgender service members."
"The transgender population is less than one half of a percent of the military" and "this is a nonissue in terms of the impact on the budget, military readiness, unit cohesion, and morale," he tells the Times.
"The annual cost of implementing the policy change is about how much the U.S. spends on operations in Afghanistan every hour."
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