After President Donald Trump announced Wednesday, in a series of tweets, the US military would not accept transgender Americans, Oklahoma members of Congress showed their support for the decision.
"Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail," Mr. Trump wrote.
Sen. Jim Inhofe praised the announcement and echoed the President’s concerns. Inhofe serves on the Senate Committee Armed Services committee.
"Our military readiness is at an all-time low, putting our troops at risk and our national security in jeopardy. Last year when the Obama administration initiated changes to these policies, I expressed concerns about their impact on our readiness,” said Inhofe. “I appreciate President Trump's commitment to improving military readiness, including increased military funding and personnel additions he has already secured."
A staffer in Inhofe’s office said the Senator was mostly concerned with medical costs that are associated with allowing transgender Americans to serve. They said Inhofe wants the Dept. of Defense to study the costs before “we dive in head first,” adding he is “appreciative of all service members” nonetheless.
According to a recent RAND Corporation study, the overall cost of gender-transition related health care costs would increase military health spending .04-.13 percent or up to $8.4 million of the $6 billion budget. In contrast, the military spent an estimated $84 million in 2015 on erectile dysfunction medication like Viagra, according to findings by Military Times. Inhofe’s staff was aware of the RAND study, but called it “only one study.”
Inhofe was not the only member of the Oklahoma congressional delegation to weigh in Wednesday. Rep. Steve Russell (R), a retired Army Lt. Col and member of the House veterans’ caucus also called the “Warriors’ Caucus,” gave his opinion on C-SPAN Wednesday morning.
“If they enter this with the types of [hormone] therapies they’re really not ready for any type of deployments,” Russell just after the Mr. Trump’s Twitter announcement.
Russell also said the announcement helps prevent crisis of conscience for military doctors who would’ve have had to treat transgender service members.
“You have the physicians, you’ve got soldiers and warriors out there, many would be advised to conduct these counselings or do different things or provide different procedures and that really crosses into first amendment territory when it comes to violations of conscious,” he said.
Oklahoma has the eighth highest transgender population with more than 18,300 Oklahomans identifying as transgender, according to a study by the Williams Institute in 2014.