Evangelical leader the Rev. Franklin Graham has spoken out about his "disgust" that taxpayer money is going to be used to pay for gender reassignment and hormone therapy for members of the U.S. military, calling it President Barack Obama's "immoral garbage."
"The media keep talking about it, but to be honest with you, nobody gives a rip about Donald J. Trump's taxes. What people do care about is their own taxes," Graham said in a Facebook post on Monday, referring to revelations by The New York Times that the Republican presidential nominee declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, which could have allowed him to avoid paying taxes for 18 years, which is legal for businesses under the tax code.
"And when I read about the government spending $8.4 million of taxpayers' money a year — starting today — for things like gender reassignment and hormone therapy for military personnel, I'm disgusted! Aren't you?" he asked, linking to an article in USA Today warning that the government could start spending up to $8.4 million per year on gender reassignment treatments and surgeries for soldiers.
The article added that there are anywhere between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender troops in the active-duty force, with RAND Corp. estimating that between 30 and 140 soldiers could request hormone treatment, and 25 to 130 would seek surgery.
"This is the kind of immoral garbage President Obama and his administration are allowing to be put in place in our country," Graham continued. "$8.4 million a year — with all the things our military needs — can you believe that? Things like this need to be stopped. It just shows you how morally warped our politicians have become."
Some, such as Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a public policy think tank that focuses on LGBT issues, argued that the cost of caring for transgender troops could be lower than reported, because "transition-related care has been proven to mitigate serious conditions including suicidality that, left untreated, impose costs."
Other critics, such as Ron Crews, executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, said there are more important areas where the government should be spending the money, however.
"I think this is a gross misuse of military medical dollars that should be used to make our military forces deployable or to help those who are wounded or injured while they are deployed," Crews said.
The Pentagon lifted the ban on transgender troops openly serving in the military only in June, and at the same time announced that taxpayer money could be used to cover "medically necessary" medical care associated with gender transition.
"This is the right thing to do for our people and for the force," Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said at the time.
"We're talking about talented Americans who are serving with distinction or who want the opportunity to serve. We can't allow barriers unrelated to a person's qualifications prevent us from recruiting and retaining those who can best accomplish the mission," he added.