On Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced in a series of tweets a ban of trans people from any and all military service. The president cited “tremendous medical costs” that the government would incur by allowing transgender people to serve.
The actual numbers, however, paint a different picture.
“The Pentagon estimates that the cost would be between $2 [million] to $8 million,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Every weekend [Trump’s] trip to Mar-a-Lago costs $2 million.”
On Twitter, Chelsea Manning, the transgender soldier who spent years in a military prison for leaking classified documents, immediately shot down the cost argument: “So, biggest baddest most $$ military on Earth cries about a few trans people but funds the F-35? Sounds like cowardice.”
The F-35 is the most expensive weapons system the U.S. has ever fielded and is projected to cost an estimated $1 trillion to maintain and operate.
Here are a few other things that the U.S. military industrial complex is digging into the couch cushions to pay for while transgender soldiers get left by the wayside.
The ninth Coast Guard “cutter”
In the 2016 Defense Authorization budget, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) added a provision for a $640 million national security cutter to be used by the U.S. Coast Guard. The provision passed into law despite the fact that it was determined to be unnecessary by both the Obama administration and the Coast Guard itself, which said the current fleet of eight cutters was sufficient.
This $1 billion Navy Destroyer
In that same year’s appropriations bill, Sen. Susan Collins of (R-Maine) included a provision for a $1 billion Navy Destroyer that would be manufactured in her home state. According to the New York Times, the Department of Defense did not request any additional funding for the ship in that year’s budget.
This unused, $25-million-plus Afghani military base the U.S. will probably demolish
The U.S. spent years building a 64,000-square-foot military base in Afghanistan. By the time the project was completed, it had a price tag of $25 million, according to ProPublica. (NBC places the price tag as high as $34 million.) Development of roads and other major utilities for the base cost taxpayers another $20 million. The facility was never used. As of 2015, the plan is to demolish the unused and unnecessary base; its demolition will cost another $5 million.
A $40 million unused and unfinished correctional facility in Iraq
In 2004, the U.S. began construction on a 3,600-bed prison in Iraq’s Diyala province. The project cost American taxpayers $40 million, but it was abandoned midway through construction because of violence in the region. As of 2013, the facility remained abandoned and Iraq’s government stated that it had no plans to complete it.
The military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, continues to indefinitely detain military prisoners at a price of around $2.7 million per detainee. More than $454 million is spent annually to keep the prison open. It has been dubbed the “most expensive prison on Earth.”
Correction: Aug. 4, 2017
A previous version of this story included a photo of a Coast Guard vessel different from the national security cutter described in the story. The photo has been replaced.