I was happily sat watching TV on my break on Wednesday and turned on to SKY News. I was greeted by the news that President Donald Trump (it still feels weird saying that) had banned transgender people from having ANY role in the military. I have to say, I was shocked.
The decision reversed a policy initially approved by the Defense Department under President Barack Obama, which was still under final review, that would allow transgender individuals to openly serve in the military. Defense Secretary James Mattis last month said he was delaying the policy to allow transgender people to join the military.
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump said on Twitter on Wednesday morning. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
“Thank you,” he added.
However, as in most things with this President, his policy came without any plans to actually implement, and no clear plan of what would happen to existing members of the military who are already Transgender. According to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders the White House and the Defense Department would work together “as implementation takes place and is done so lawfully.”
What are Their Reasons?
But why exactly are they banning trans people from the military?
Sanders said transgender service “erodes military readiness and unit cohesion” citing health costs. She said the move was a “military decision” and is “not meant to be anything more than” that.
Sanders went on to say the decision was made based “on what was best for the military” and was made in council with the President’s national security team.
Last year a study said there were between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender people out of a total of 1.3 million people serving in the military.
The RAND study estimated the possibility of 30 to 140 new hormone treatments a year in the military, with 25 to 130 gender transition-related surgeries among active military personnel. The cost could range from $2.4 million and $8.4 million. However, that would be an incredibly small proportion of total military healthcare spending; between 0.004 and 0.017%.
Needless to say, in certain quarters, this has gone down badly. The American Civil Liberties Union called the decision “outrageous and desperate” and that it was looking for ways to overturn it.
“Let us be clear. This has been studied extensively, and the consensus is clear: There are no cost or military readiness drawbacks associated with allowing trans people to fight for their country. The President is trying to score cheap political points on the backs of military personnel who have put their lives on the line for their country,” said Joshua Block, the senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project.
Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Michigan, the vice chair of the congressional LGBT caucus, called Trump’s decision a “slap in the face to the thousands of transgender Americans already serving in the military” and said it “undermines our military’s readiness.”
“Anyone who is willing to put on the uniform of the United States and risk their life in service to our country should be celebrated as patriots, regardless of their gender identity. This short-sighted and discriminatory policy will make America less safe,” said Kildee.
Why are They REALLY doing it?
So why has this decision been taken? Well, it is fair to say, when the Obama administration decided to allow Transgender people to join the military, hard line conservatives were appalled. For many, including me, Trump is just playing to the people who think Transgender people are deviants who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the military.
In my mind, if you are willing to fight and die for your country then a person is a person. The same goes for those in positions behind the lines, everyone is doing a job.
I think people who don’t deal with transgender people have an incomplete view of what they are like. I can imagine if they wanted to wear a dress on the front line, or call their Sergeant ‘darling’ there would be an issue. But Jesus, does anyone think that would really happen?
As ever, we stand with the trans people all over the world. Prejudice is still alive, we knew that, but when the ‘leader of the free world’ is up to his neck in it, then you know we have a problem.
Since then, he has specialised in articles on the battle for equal rights for sex workers, sexual health, as well as bringing the readers fun news from around the world. He also has a major interest in LGBT rights, and is an active campaigner in this field.
When he isn't fighting the good fight, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, and young daughter. He also enjoys reading and taking long walks.