Fact checking Trump's comments on transgender military service members

By Grace Segers, David (CNET) Martin

/ CBS News

Trump tries to walk back Meghan Markle insult

President Trump has received significant criticism for his administration's restrictions on transgender individuals serving in the military. Mr. Trump defended his policy in an interview with British TV host Piers Morgan which aired Wednesday, saying the primary reasons for the policy change were cost and drug use.

"They take massive amounts of drugs," Mr. Trump said about transgender individuals undergoing hormone treatment. "They have to, and also, and you're not allowed to take drugs, you're in the military, you're not allowed to take any drugs."

However, members of the military are permitted to use prescription drugs. A spokeswoman for the Department of Defense told CBS News the Pentagon covers all medically necessary and FDA-approved treatments, including hormone therapy. Any service member — transgender or not — will receive hormone treatment if they are suffering from a deficiency.

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Mr. Trump also said the cost of gender reassignment surgery was prohibitive for the department.

"Also, massive amounts of people going in and then asking for the operation, and the operation is $200,000, $250,000," Mr. Trump told Morgan.

However, this figure is incorrect. In 2018, the department spent roughly $1.3 million on 105 surgeries related to gender dysphoria, and has spent a little over $2 million between 2016 and February 2019 on around 161 surgeries. That equates to roughly $12,000 per surgery.

Service members diagnosed with gender dysphoria before April 12, 2019, are exempt from the new policy and eligible for surgery. If a service member is not exempt from the new policy and requires gender reassignment surgery, they will be evaluated for potential discharge, but will be given all medically necessary care in the meantime.

First published on June 5, 2019 / 6:14 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Grace Segers

Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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