Ever since U.S. President Donald Trump first issued his needless ban of transgender military members via Twitter on July 26, 2017, several federal courts have blocked it from going into effect. In fact, on Nov. 27, 2017, a federal court ruled the military had to start accepting trans recruits on Jan. 1, 2018. And yet, The New York Times has reported that pretty much every transgender person who has tried to sign up for military duty since 2018 started has been kept waiting, basically signifying that the Trump military ban is still affecting recruits, no matter what the courts say.
The New York Times reports, “SPART*A, an organization for transgender recruits, troops and veterans, says that out of its 140 members who are trying to enlist, only two have made it into the service since Jan. 1. Others have been stymied by the Military Entrance Processing Command, which has rejected some of the applicants and kept others in limbo for months by requesting ever more detailed medical documentation.”
SPART*A worries that the Trump administration is basically defying court orders by “slow walking” transgender military recruits, getting them tied up in bureaucratic red tape rather than rejecting them outright.
Even without the new recruits, the instability caused by the Trump military ban still affects the estimated 1,320 to 15,000 trans people currently serving in the military and their families because it leaves the stability of their employment uncertain.
The Trump military ban was originally rationalized as a cost-saving measure. Trump said, the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
The problem with his reasoning though was that it was bullshit. The cost for trans medical treatment in the military is negligible. The U.S. military spends more on erectile dysfunction medication than it does on trans medical care. The military currently spends $41.6 million annually on the erectile dysfunction medication Viagra, and only $2.4 million to $8.4 million annually on trans-related healthcare, nearly five to 20 times less than its Viagra costs.
On March 23, 2018, Trump issued a second trans military ban which stated “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria” who “may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery, are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances.”
Despite the second ban’s medical jargon, its reasoning was basically identical to the first ban’s. As such, it hasn’t found any success in the courts. But if SPART*A finds that the administration is deliberately slow-walking new recruits, then the Trump administration may have a new lawsuit on their hands.