"The military is not a social experiment. The purpose of the military is kill people and break things," Huckabee said during the GOP's top-tier debate. "It is not to transform the culture by trying out some ideas that some people think would make us a different country and more diverse. The purpose is to protect America. I'm not sure how paying for transgender surgery for soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines makes our country safer."
The Defense Department announced last month that it is putting in motion a working group to determine what would be required to lift the ban on transgender troops, which is rooted in outdated medical regulations. It is estimated that some 15,000 transgender individuals are serving in active duty or the reserves. Eighteen other countries allow open transgender military service.