SAEM/ADIEM Respond to Ban on Transgender Service Members
It is very disappointing and troubling when the rights of any group of people are restricted or reversed. Yesterday's decision to ban transgender individuals from the US Military is a reminder that much fear and misunderstanding continues to exist about sexual minority individuals. As an organization with an academy (ADIEM) that aspires to a diverse and inclusive patient population, learner population, and academic community, ADIEM and SAEM share the responsibility to work together to educate and advocate for the health of our vulnerable populations. We must be visible and continue to push forward in education, scholarship, and service to address and minimize health inequities and health disparities. A review of the facts demonstrates that thousands of transgender individuals currently serve our country every day in the military. The cost of medical care for transgender individuals was cited as a driving reason for the ban. However, a study commissioned by the Defense Department with the Rand Corporation provided exhaustive estimates on potential transgender military costs. The result was an estimated $2-8 million, which would cause a 0.13% increase in healthcare spending (total healthcare cost of $6.2 billion). A Washington Post article pointed out yesterday that this same study showed $42 million of that military healthcare budget pays for Viagra. Clearly cost is not a true barrier.
As academic emergency physicians, we stand for evidence based practice and decision making. Let us use facts not stereotypes or prejudice to care for our patients, and to ensure all patients we care for are treated equitably. Access to medical care, and full rights of society help to promote better health for all patients. Our mission of education, scholarship and service is a sacred principle that we should not allow to be compromised for any minority group.