New England – According to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, transition care for transgender members of the US military, would cost around $5.6 million annually.

Aaron Belkin, the study lead author and academic at San Francisco State University, stated that the amount would be of just 22 cents monthly per service member, as the military’s annual health budget is of $47.8 billion.

In July, defense chief Ash Carter supported the admission to the US military of transgender people for the first time in the history of the country, “with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact,” he said. As for now, the study estimated that 12,800 transgender people serve in the US armed forces.

Captain Sage Fox, U.S. Army Reserve at a American Civil Liberties Union meeting called ‘Perspectives on Transgender Military Service from Around the Globe” on 2014. Photo:Geneva-Sands/Fusion

Many have criticized Carter decision, for example, presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said, “I’m not sure how paying for transgender surgery for soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, makes our country safer.”

From the population of transgender people serving in the military, the analysis calculated that an estimated of 188 transgender service members would require some type of transition-related care annually.

As a reference for the report, the experts stated that the Australian military covers the cost of transition-related care. Currently, an average of 1 service member out of 11,154 per year are transgender.

To calculate the cost of care, they determined the average cost of transition-related care (surgery, hormones, or both) per person needing treatment which was $29,929 over 6 and a half years. By comparison, over a 30-month period, the Australian military paid U.S. $287,710 for transition-related care for 13 service members, or $22,132 per person requiring care.

Under these estimations, to offer transition-related care to the 188 military personnel expected to require it annually in the US, it would cost about $5.6 million per year, or $438 per transgender service member annually, meaning 22 cents monthly per member. If the Australian military’s annual cost of transition-related care is applied to the US armed forces, the Pentagon could expect to pay $4.2 million annually to provide such care.

In this image offered by the journal the calculations can be scrutinized.

Image: The New England Journal of Medicine

The report also determined that transgender people are twice as common in the military that in than in the general population. “This is possibly because many transgender women – those born male but identifying as female – seek to prove to themselves that they are not transgender by joining the military and trying to fit into its hypermasculine culture,” Belkin said.

Regarding to many criticism as observers debate over the concept that the military should pay or not for transition-related care, the report stated “Even if actual costs exceed these estimates on a per-capita basis for persons requiring care, the total cost of providing transition-related care will always have a negligible effect on the military health budget because of the small number treated and the cost savings that the provision of such care will yield. The financial cost of transition-related care, in short, is too low to matter”.

Source: New England Journal of Medicine