WASHINGTON – The Pentagon has spent nearly $8 million to treat more than 1,500 transgender troops since 2016, including 161 surgical procedures, according to data obtained by USA TODAY.
As of Feb. 1, 1,071 service members have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Public Health Service on active duty and in the reserve force.
Most of them are senior enlisted personnel, but there are 20 senior officers – majors and lieutenant commanders and higher – as well.
Overall, the troops represent a fraction of the total force of 2.1 million. The number of transgender troops serving who have not sought treatment through the military is not known.
Transgender troops and their medical and psychological treatment has been a flash point for controversy since President Donald Trump tweeted in July 2017 that he wanted to ban them from the military. In January, the question reached the Supreme Court, which ruled that a modified ban could take effect while lower court challenges continued.
On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee will hear testimony on the military's policy, which bans most troops with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have blasted the Pentagon policy as bigoted. She invited transgender troops to Trump's State of the Union address this month.
Data on the population of transgender troops have been closely held at the Pentagon. The most definitive estimates of the population of transgender troops have come from a Defense Department-commissioned report in 2016. The non-partisan RAND Corp. report estimated as many as several thousand among the 1.3 million service members on active duty in the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy. RAND researchers determined that their treatment would have negligible effects on military readiness.
The data obtained by USA TODAY show in greater detail the number and rank of troops receiving treatment, the type of therapy and the cost.
Gender dysphoria is a condition recognized by the medical and mental health community. The American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association oppose the Pentagon's ban, noting that there is no medically valid reason to exclude those with the diagnosis of gender dysphoria from military service.