Taxpayers will now foot the bill for gender reassignment surgery for active military personnel and veterans, with some treatments costing upward of $200,000 under an executive order signed by President Biden.
Tucked inside Biden’s Jan. 25 transgender order, “Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform,” is a clause that repeals an Obama-era policy that prohibited federally funded reassignment surgery. This was followed up by memos from both Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough specifically stating that surgery is now an added benefit.
“This revised policy will also ensure all medically-necessary transition related care authorized by law is available to all Service members,” Austin wrote.
In a VA email to employees, McDonough echoed: “Perform an assessment of the necessary steps to eliminate the exclusion of ‘gender alteration’ (gender affirmation surgery) in the medical benefits package.”
Neither official stated how much the added benefit would cost but rather pledged to undertake an analysis.
Online charts by the Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery show a plethora of elective surgeries for both men and women that add up to $100,000-$200,000. Although Biden stated in his order that the cost of treating transgender troops would have minimal impact on healthcare costs, that is not borne out by a 2019 USA Today investigation. The news analysis revealed that the Pentagon spent $8 million to treat just 1,500 transgender military officials, which included hormone treatments and some surgeries. It was not clear why the surgeries were allowed at that time.
Rep. Jim Banks, an Indiana Republican, is an Afghanistan veteran and sits on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. He supports transgender individuals serving in the military and said he served with people with diverse backgrounds. But he disputes that the public should pay for surgical intervention.
“This is radical and new territory for a presidential administration to force taxpayers to fund sexual reassignment surgeries for those in the military,” he told the Washington Examiner. “I’m compassionate toward those individuals who want to undergo an elective surgery of this nature, but taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook to pay for it. It’s constitutionally dubious that Congress hasn’t passed these measures, but the administration, in a radical way, is pushing through this agenda. I sit on the committee that should debate these issues.”
The order also violates the religious liberties of Catholics and Christians who oppose such a procedure, Banks said.
Lt. Gen. Thomas Spoehr, who commanded U.S. Army forces in Iraq and now directs the Heritage Center for National Defense, says Biden’s order currently reads like anyone in a war zone can suddenly take leave to undergo reassignment surgery.
“I would like to think the Pentagon would come up with a procedure … It’s completely irrational to change your gender right in front of a conflict,” he said. “A lot of people [in the military] are outraged by this idea that you can just come in and get this [surgery] and be gone from your unit. Someone has to pick up the slack while you are gone.”
Biden has made transgender people a protected class because other recruits are not accepted if they have an existing medical condition that would require ongoing treatment, he said. Spoehr also predicted that many would join the military to receive free surgery.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, blasted Biden’s “social experimentation” as a follow-up to former President Barack Obama’s 2016 inclusiveness mandate that he said created chaos with sensitivity trainings and bathroom retrofits.
“By 2019, the Defense Department announced that it had redirected funds from salaries, equipment, and trainings for 22,992 psychotherapy visits, 9,321 hormone prescriptions, and a whopping 161 surgeries (ranging from hysterectomies and breast augmentation to 'male reproductive' construction),” Perkins said in a press release. “While America faces rising threats from around the world, it's obvious that Joe Biden is only interested in using our military to fight one war: the culture's.”