President Donald Trump stumbled in his explanation of why he chose to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military and continued to peddle the false narrative that health care for trans troops was too expensive.
Host Piers Morgan pressed the president on this policy and asked why it was necessary, especially after Trump tweeted last week his support for LGBT people.
As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made to our great Nation, let us also stand in solidarity with the many LGBT people who live in dozens of countries worldwide that punish, imprison, or even execute individuals….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2019
“Because they take massive amounts of drugs,” Trump explained. “They have to, and also — and you’re not allowed to take drugs. You’re in the military, you’re not allowed to take any drugs. You take an aspirin.”
That is false. Military members can take prescription drugs, and many do take drugs such as birth control and Viagra. Military Times and Men’s Health have previously reported the spike in military use of drugs such as anxiety medication, sleeping pills, and antidepressants.
“They have to after the operation. They have to. They have no choice, they have to,” Trump continued. “And you would actually have to break rules and regulations in order to have that.”
Watch the interview below:
Transgender troops were allowed to serve starting in 2016, and the military allowed them to take hormone therapy and have surgeries. It was not against regulations until the Trump administration made it so.
Morgan pointed out that the military spends more money on providing Viagra for service members than it does on transgender health care. Trump said he “didn’t know that.”
The statistics on Viagra in the military came to light when Trump first announced the ban on transgender troops in 2017. At the time, the Washington Post reported that the military spends five times the amount on erection medicine for troops than it would for all transgender-specific health care.
“Well, it is what it is,” Trump said when Morgan caught him on not knowing about military spending on erection medication.
“Look massive amounts — and also, people were going in and then asking for the operation, and the operation is $200,000, $250,000,” the president continued to explain.
It’s unclear where the president got this estimate. According to Teen Vogue, the average cost for sex reassignment surgery is $30,000.
Sex reassignment surgeries were a minuscule amount of the military’s overall medical spending. According to the Associated Press, the Department of Defense has spent $8 million on transgender health care since 2016. The annual health care budget tops $50 billion, meaning all of transgender-specific health care spanning less than three years was .016 percent of one year of total health care costs.
“I’m proud of them, I think it’s great,” Trump said of transgender troops who served in the military. “But you have to have a standard, and you have to stick by that standard.”