[image-1]President Donald Trump started the morning by effectively declaring transgender Americans overly burdensome to the nation’s military, stating that these individuals will not be allowed to serve their country’s fighting forces.
“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. 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,” wrote the president in a series of tweets.
With the ban on transgender troops previously lifted under the Obama administration, policy efforts governing medical care for transgender personnel were held up leading to Trump’s election into office. In 2016, a Rand Corp. National Defense Research Institute report commissioned by the Defense Department aimed to determine what if any financial and operational impact transgender troops might have on United States forces. The report’s best midrange estimate of the military’s transgender population at the time was around 2,450 transgender individuals in active duty (AC) and 1,510 in the reserves, with the highest estimates being around 6,600 transgender troops in active duty in 2014.
The Charleston County Democratic Party has already called on local Republican representatives to renounce the president’s ban. With the military careers of these individuals in question, LGBTQ rights organizations have taken a stand against the president’s effort to ban transgender individuals from service.
“On this day in 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order to desegregate our military, making it more open and inclusive of all Americans. Today, our president has announced that members of our transgender community will no longer be allowed to serve in our country’s armed forces,” says Chase Glenn, executive director of the Alliance for Full Acceptance. “To reduce the value of the lives of the estimated 5,000 transgender military personnel currently serving in the military and fighting for our freedom, to a tweet, is offensive and reprehensible, and puts the safety and well-being of those currently serving in jeopardy.” [image-2] Regarding the president’s claims regarding medical expenses, the Rand report estimated a maximum of 130 transition-related surgeries and 140 service members initiating transition-related hormone therapy (out of a total active force of 1,326,273 in 2014). Financially, it was also estimated that allowing transgender troops to serve openly in the military would raise health care expenditures by $2.4-$8.4 million annually — an amount that the report stated will have little impact on and represents an exceedingly small portion of active-duty health care expenditures, which were placed at $6 billion in 2014. Overall, Department of Defense spent $49.3 billion on health care that year. At least 18 other countries in the world currently allow transgender personnel to serve openly in the military.
“Members of our transgender community have been faithfully and skillfully serving our nation’s military and this most recent statement from our president is a blatant contradiction to his previous statements of support for the LGBTQ community and stands in direct opposition to the very rights and freedoms for which our military fight,” says Glenn. “We stand with our transgender community and will continue to fight for their right to full equality. We call on those who also stand for equality to contact their elected officials and demand a response denouncing this Department of Defense policy reversal.”