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The cost of Trump’s Trans Ban

When I was in the Army, it was estimated that my training cost the US taxpayer close to $500,000. For that they got 2.5 years of contingency readiness. That is, after 1.5 year of training I waited around for 2.5 years in case any of my skills were necessary, and then my time was up and I moved on with life.

Why do I bring that up? Because if the Army had decided two years in that for some arbitrary reason I need to be instantly discharged, that would have been a lot of wasted money. And indeed, back in my day the Army was still on “don’t ask, don’t tell” and a number of my colleagues (many of them very good soldiers) were discharged simply because of their sexual orientation. (I’ll save the story about the time I brought my gay female colleague’s girlfriend to an Army ball for her – we all sat at the same table; our CO figured it out, but didn’t say anything).

So the Donald decided from one day to the next that he was going to discharge all the trans soldiers from the armed services. No input from the generals; the Secretary of Defense got about 24 hour’s notice (an improvement over the first few months where the White House didn’t even bother notifying the affected agencies in advance). So this was not a carefully deliberated, and the Pentagon’s response was essentially, “Let’s all wait for the formal order”. But I can predict a few things. For one, it will be hell on readiness with a whole bunch of critical positions suddenly open. A lot of teams are suddenly going to be missing a key member. I can also predict that the wasted training expenses are easily going to be 100 times more than any savings on medical costs. In this case, regressive social gestures cost real money.

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