“His decision hurts thousands of serving people—and their families. It’s based on ignorance and bigotry.”
On Wednesday morning President Trump announced a major policy change in the US military, proclaiming on Twitter that transgender people will be banned from serving “in any capacity.” The shocking policy shift comes barely a year after the Obama administration instituted a landmark achievement for the rights of transgender military personnel by ending the ban on trans servicemen.
“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,” the President stated early this 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.”
For transgender Americans who have served in the US military—and those who support trans rights anywhere—the decision is a disgrace. Brittyn Calyx is a trans woman and former Private First Class in the Army National Guard, who was discharged under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell “for three years during the height of the Iraq War.” The idea that transgender military personnel are “disruptive” to the primary mission of US military simply isn’t true, she told Broadly.
“Gender dysphoria affects different people differently, but it doesn’t really impact job performance as long as the employer creates an environment that is accepting and validating,” Calyx said. “That can be done in the military, and it should.”
“This does great harm to people who simply want to serve their country, and have been doing so with distinction and without disruption to our mission,” said Brynn Tannehll, a former Lt. Commander and trans woman who served in the US Navy for more than a decade.
Trump’s suggestion that transgender military personnel burden the military with undue financial strain is factually unfounded. Research by the Rand Corporation into this very subject has shown that the medical expenses associated with trans people in the military are negligible; medical care for trans military personnel is estimated to “have a marginal impact on health care costs and the readiness of the force.”
“We have been serving honorably for decades,” Tannehill affirmed. “The current policy has been going smoothly.” So what’s the problem? Though Trump cited how disruptive and expensive trans people would be to the military, others have suggested the decision is based on discrimination.