Chaos and confusion have followed President Donald Trump's Twitter announcement early on July 26 that he will ban transgender individuals from the military. He cited the "tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender [sic] in the military would entail." The decision -- which Trump claims he discussed with military personnel -- has reportedly stunned people in the Pentagon.
But now we might have an idea as to why the announcement was made: Politico reports that Trump most likely made the announcement to save a spending bill which includes funding for several Trump campaign promises -- including a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
The bill, which would partially fund Trump's promise to build a wall, was in dispute over transgender troops.
House Republicans were reportedly split on whether or not to include an amendment in the spending bill which would have prohibited Pentagon funding for gender reassignment surgery.
Those who did not want to foot the cost for the procedure threatened to derail the bill if it didn't include the prohibition, putting the money for Trump's promises at risk. Legislators reportedly went to the president to discuss the dispute. And he got to tweeting, solving his problem by banning transgender individuals from serving at all.
Senior House Appropriations Committee member Robert Aderholt, a Republican from Alabama, told Politico, “This isn't about the transgender issue; it's about the taxpayer dollars going to pay for the surgery out of the defense budget."
Only a few weeks ago, House Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Republican from Missouri, introduced an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill, which would have banned transgender military members from receiving gender reassignment surgery. The amendment was defeated 214-209.
But Trump's announcement -- a total ban on trans individuals serving in the military -- is a far cry from the already-dubious attempts to prohibit funding for gender reassignment-related care.
The reality is that spending on medical care for trans military personnel, including transition-related care, is not "tremendous" as the president has claimed.
Rather, gender transition-related care is estimated to cost the military anywhere from $2.4 million to $8.4 million per year, according to The Washington Post. Compare that to military spending on erectile dysfunction medication, which costs the Pentagon approximately $84 million per year.
Additionally, a wall between the U.S. and Mexico could cost anywhere from $21.6 billion to $70 billion to build and $150 million per year to maintain, per The New York Times. Banning Pentagon-funded gender reassignment surgery -- and any transgender-related care, for that matter -- would hardly make a dent in the funds required to build a wall.
Trump asked Congress for $1.4 billion to build the wall back in April, but backed off shortly after his initial ask.
But now, Trump's announcement, according to Politico's report, might just save the $1.6 billion allocated for his wall in the House spending bill.
Just last year, the Pentagon lifted the ban on transgender individuals serving openly, and according to a 2016 study, there are anywhere from 1,320 to 6,630 transgender individuals serving in active duty, while anywhere from 830 to 4,160 members are in the reserves.
The exact parameters of the ban -- when it will start, if it will affect active duty members or just those who are trying to join up -- are still up in the air, but protests are already being organized around the country, and civil rights organizations like the ACLU are already springing into action to contest the ban.