Trump defends transgender troop ban with bogus claim about 'massive' cost of drugs

President Donald Trump defended his administration’s efforts to ban transgender people from serving in the military in an interview that aired in the UK on Wednesday, saying that America’s armed services had to have a “standard” and stick to it.

Trump, who is currently in the UK for a three-day state visit, spoke for an hour with ITV’s Piers Morgan on a wide range of topics related to his policies. When asked about his administration’s new policy that effectively prohibits transgender troops from serving, the president stood firmly behind his decision and inexplicably pointed to the amount of medication transgender service members need to take as the basis for keeping them out of the military.

“They take massive amounts of drugs, they have to, and you’re not allowed to take drugs,” Trump said of transgender service members. “I’m proud of them, but you have to have a standard, and you have to stick by that standard, and we have a great military and I want to keep it that way.”

It’s unclear what figures Trump is referring to, but he has pointed to “tremendous medical costs and disruption” before.

Around 10,000 transgender people may be serving in the military, according to a study released by the RAND Corporation in 2016. But the Pentagon has spent just $8 million on transgender health care since 2016, a tiny percentage of the military’s annual health care budget of more than $50 billion, the Associated Press reported in March.

Related: Transgender members of the military

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Transgender members of the military

Nevada Army National Guard Sergeant Sam Hunt, an electrician with G Company, 2/238th General Support Aviation Battalion poses for a photo on the flight line at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Stead, Nevada, U.S. May 12, 2017. Hunt is the first openly transgender soldier of the Nevada National Guard. 

(Tech. Sgt. Emerson Marcus/Nevada Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs/Handout via REUTERS)

Former US Army Colonel and transgender Sheri Swokowski talks with reporters on July 27, 2017 in DeForest, Wisconsin, the day following US President Donald Trumps announcing of a ban on transgender military members.

(DEREK R. HENKLE/AFP/Getty Images)

Transgender former US Air Force member Vanessa Sheridan poses for a photo after talking with reporters in Chicago, Illinois on July 26, 2017. Trump announced that transgender people may not serve 'in any capacity' in the US military, citing the 'tremendous medical costs and disruption' their presence would cause.

(DEREK R. HENKLE/AFP/Getty Images)

Kristin Beck, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, speaks during a same-sex marriage rally to celebrate the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 25, 2014. The U.S. appeals court ruled on Wednesday that conservative Utah may not ban gay couples from marrying, a decision that capped a day of victories for same-sex nuptials and nudges the issue closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.

(REUTERS/Jim Urquhart)

Alaina Kupec poses for a portrait at Logo's 'Trailblazer Honors' on June 23, 2016, in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

(Photo by Ungano & Agriodimas /Getty Images Portrait)

Transgender military pilot Shane Ortega arrives at IDENTITY: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders The List Portraits exhibition opening at the Annenberg Space for Photography on September 22, 2016 in Century City, California.

(Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)

Former US Army Colonel and transgender Sheri Swokowski carries her uniform July 27, 2017 in DeForest, Wisconsin, the day following US President Donald Trumps announcing of a ban on transgender military members.

(DEREK R. HENKLE/AFP/Getty Images)

Former US Army Colonel and transgender Sheri Swokowski raises the American flag at her home on July 27, 2017 in DeForest, Wisconsin, the day following US President Donald Trumps announcing of a ban on transgender military members.

(DEREK R. HENKLE/AFP/Getty Images)

Transgender former US Air Force member Vanessa Sheridan poses for a photo after talking with reporters in Chicago, Illinois on July 26, 2017. Trump announced that transgender people may not serve 'in any capacity' in the US military, citing the 'tremendous medical costs and disruption' their presence would cause.

(DEREK R. HENKLE/AFP/Getty Images)

Transgender Retired US Army Colonel Sheri Swokowski prepares her uniform on July 1, 2016, at her home in DeForest, Wisconsin. Transgender personnel will no longer be barred from serving openly in the US military, the Pentagon announced on June 30, 2016. Lifting the ban on transgender service members is 'the right thing to do, and it's another step in ensuring that we continue to recruit and retain the most qualified people,' US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told reporters.

(DEREK HENKLE/AFP/Getty Images)

Hayden Brown with his girlfriend Mia Scott at home on July 28, 2017 in Altoona, Pennsylvania. The transgender solider says he was told, days after President Trump banning transgender people from the military, that he must carry out the rest of his military career as a woman if he wants to keep his job. Hayden Brown says that just days after Donald Trump tweeted he was to ban all transgender people from the military, he received a call from his unit telling him he must revert back to female to continue his service. The 23-year-old from Pennsylvania has been in the armed forces for four and a half years, initially identifying as a woman.

(Ruaridh Connellan/Barcroft Ima/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Collect image of Hayden Brown with his military comrades at the presidential inauguration briefing at the Washington Redskins stadium on January 20, 2017 in Washington DC. A TRANSGENDER solider says he was told, days after President Trump banning transgender people from the military, that he must carry out the rest of his military career as a woman if he wants to keep his job. Hayden Brown says that just days after Donald Trump tweeted he was to ban all transgender people from the military, he received a call from his unit telling him he must revert back to female to continue his service. The 23-year-old from Pennsylvania has been in the armed forces for four and a half years, initially identifying as a woman.

(Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Hayden Brown with his girlfriend Mia Scott at home on July 28, 2017 in Altoona, Pennsylvania. The transgender solider says he was told, days after President Trump banning transgender people from the military, that he must carry out the rest of his military career as a woman if he wants to keep his job. Hayden Brown says that just days after Donald Trump tweeted he was to ban all transgender people from the military, he received a call from his unit telling him he must revert back to female to continue his service. The 23-year-old from Pennsylvania has been in the armed forces for four and a half years, initially identifying as a woman.

(Ruaridh Connellan/Barcroft Ima/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Brock Stone, who is based at Fort Meade and has served in the Navy for 11 years, including a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan, speaks to reports federal court with his team from the ACLU on November 9, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. Brock Stone is challenging President Trump's policy banning transgender people from serving in the military.

(Photo by Jason Andrew for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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The president’s transgender military ban went into effect in April amid several lawsuits from civil rights groups. The policy bars anyone who has transitioned or who is openly transgender from enlisting in the military, and says that those who come out while serving can be discharged. The U.S. Supreme Court told the Trump administration its ban could go into effect while the cases made their way through the court system in January.

Morgan had asked Trump about a tweet he sent out at the end of last month recognizing June as Pride Month, while at the same time standing by the ban on transgender service members.

“It is what it is,” Trump said during his response. “And also massive amounts of people going in and then asking for the operation, and the operation is $200,000, $250,000, and they have to take large amounts of drugs for that, large amounts, and you can’t do that.”

President Barack Obama began allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military in 2016.

The Trump administration has also moved to revoke health care discrimination protections for transgender Americans last month, arguing that “gender identity” is not protected under federal anti-discrimination laws.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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