TV journalist Piers Morgan confronted President Donald Trump on British television about his ban on transgender troops.
Trump tried to cite the high cost of prescription drugs to defend the controversial ban, but Morgan appeared to surprise the president with information that more gets spent on Viagra by the military than on hormones connected with gender confirmation surgery. The interview took place on Good Morning Britain on Wednesday.
Trump pointed to pharmaceutical costs immediately when pressed on trans troops.
“[Trans people] take massive amounts of drugs, they have to, and you’re not allowed to take drugs. You’re in the military,” Trump said.
The president tried to imply soldiers get in trouble for taking aspirin.
But Morgan noted the U.S. military in fact pays for many medical costs for troops. That includes drugs used for sexual enhancement. By comparison, the costs of any hormone therapy for enlisted individuals who are trans looks “miniscule.”
“The U.S. military spends a lot more money, for example, on giving Viagra to servicemen and women, or servicemen, than it does on actual medical bills of transgender people,” Morgan noted.
“It seems to me an unnecessary thing for a guy who wants to be supportive of LGBT rights and the community around the world to take this action you’ve taken.”
Trump said he “didn’t know that” when it came to Viagra coverage. That’s despite fact-checking organizations like Politifact confirming the numbers years ago.
But Trump dismissed the critique, citing the cost of gender confirmation surgeries as another problem.
“It is what it is,” he said. “Also, people going in and asking for the operation, you know the operation is $200,000, $250,000, and getting the operation, the recovery period is long and they have to take large amounts of drugs after that for whatever reason.”
Notably, Trump’s ban on trans troops applies to those who have already transitioned as well.
Morgan asked the president about those who have served and won gallantry awards. Trump said that’s fine he but he really doesn’t care.
“I’m proud of them. I think it’s great,” he said. “But you have to have a standard and you have to stick by that standard. We have a great military and I want to keep it that way. Maybe they’d be phenomenal. I think they probably would be. But again, you have very strict rules and regulations and prescription drugs and all of these different things and they blow it out of the water.”
Morgan is a former winner of The Celebrity Apprentice and self-described friend of the president.