Trump transgender soldiers
Trump transgender soldiers

Donald Trump Didn’t Tell the Pentagon About His New Ban on Transgender Soldiers

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This morning, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted out, “The U.S. government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military” because of “the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

His announcement comes a year after reports that the Pentagon lifted the ban on transgender service members. The original plan gave each branch of the military one year to figure out how to implement new policies affecting recruiting, housing and uniforms for transgender troops. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis extended the time allotted by six months in June 2017.

Here are Trump’s tweets banning transgender military service:

Just last month, Republicans in the U.S. House tried to overturn Obama-era regulations requiring the Pentagon to cover hormone replacement therapy or gender confirmation surgery for trans soldiers, though their efforts failed.

The official policy on trans soldiers is now unclear, despite thousands serving

It’s unclear whether Trump’s tweets came about after any officially agreed-upon change in the Pentagon on how to integrate trans troops. Sky News reports that the “Pentagon has referred all questions on Donald Trump’s announcement of ban on transgender people serving in U.S. military to the White House.”

According to a 2016 report by The RAND Corporation — a research organization that examines public policy challenges — an estimated 1,320 to 6,620 transgender individuals are already actively serving in the military. The National Center for Transgender Equality puts that number closer to 15,000.

So it’s unclear whether the military will begin actively discharging any trans-identified soldiers or whether trans soldiers will have to retreat into the closet just as gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers did in the days of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the ban on LGB military service members which lasted from 1994 to 2011.

GLAAD calls Trump’s tweets “A direct attack on transgender Americans”

In a statement released this morning, Gays and Lesbians Allied Against Defamation (GLAAD) called Trump’s announcement, “A direct attack on transgender Americans,” adding:

“Since President Trump’s inauguration, the administration has stopped at nothing to erase LGBTQ acceptance from the federal government. This includes appointing the most anti-LGBTQ administration in recent memory, deleting any mention of ‘LGBTQ’ from government websites, and rescinding guidance that protects transgender students at their schools.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also asked transgender military vets to contact them if Trump’s tweets negatively affect their service.

Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) tweeted out the following message:

“15,000+ transgender Americans are already bravely serving our country. By attacking them, @realdonaldtrump is undermining our military. I know transgender service members and vets who have done more to serve their country than @realdonaldtrump has in his entire life.”

Trump’s trips to Mar-a-lago cost more than trans military healthcare would

Right now, 18 other countries including Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom all allow trans people to serve.

The aforementioned 2016 RAND Corporation report found that integrating trans soldiers had “little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness or readiness” in these countries because trans soldiers (and the costs for their medical care) represent a very small fraction of the overall military population and its budget.

The Daily Dot reports that Trump’s weekend visits to play golf at his Mar-a-Lago country club cost more than military spending for trans healthcare would. Trans healthcare would cost the military between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually. Comparatively, “Trump’s trips to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida are estimated to have cost taxpayers $21.6 million during the first 80 days of his presidency.”

 

Featured image by DanielBendjy via iStock