by Noire Lin
On July 26, 2017, President Donald Trump declared a new military policy via Twitter, nullifying a Department of Defense policy created by the Obama administration that originally allowed transgender individuals to openly serve.
“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 tweeted, “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.”
Although the ban is currently being reviewed by James Matthis and his counsel for whether or not it is beneficial to the U.S military, the Trump Administration hopes to put the policy in place within the next six months.
Opponents of the ban such as the GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) have taken action to repeal the ban altogether. On August 31, 2017, GLAD and NCLR filed for the halting of Trump’s proposed transgender military ban in the Supreme Court case, Doe v. Trump. Doe v. Trump has been filed on behalf of five transgender service members with nearly 60 years of combined military service and asserts that with the estimated 8,800 transgender people currently serving, the Trump Administration’s concerns about military preparedness, unit cohesion and medical costs are baseless.
Major General Gale S. Pollock, Brigadier General Clara Adams-Ender, and Brigadier General Thomas A. Kolditz — each former General Officers now retired–issued out a statement following the Obama Administration’s decision to eliminate the previous restrictions set forth by the Department of Defense concerning transgender troops. After spending three months on a research commission for determining the consequences of lifting the requirement to designate one’s transgender identity, the retired General Officers came to a conclusion.
“Our conclusion is that allowing transgender personnel to serve openly is administratively feasible and will not be burdensome or complicated. Three months have passed since Defense Secretary Hagel announced a willingness to review the military’s ban on transgender service, an effort the White House indicated it supports,” the retired General Officers’ statement reads, “Our new report shows that implementation could proceed immediately and will be successful in its execution.”
There are minimal impacts on readiness, and as reported by the Rand Corp, a study issued in 2016 noted that only 10 to 130 active duty members have a reduced ability to deploy when in the midst of gender transitioning. Rand Corp also reveals that the 18 other countries that allow transgender people to openly serve have found no significant effect on their overall efficiency, rebutting the Trump Administration’s claims that transgender troops disrupt the effectiveness of the U.S. military.
Recent polling has indicated that 68 to 27 percent of Americans have stated that transgender people should be allowed to serve, with the general population of Republicans being divided on the matter. In the next six months, both supporters and opponents of the Trump Administration’s transgender military ban will learn the fate of transgender troops and those who planned on serving when they were of age.