President Donald Trump is continuing his attempt to prevent transgender military members from serving. After federal courts thwarted his attempt at a ‘ban’ in July 2016, he’s rescinded his last policy to enact a new one. It will limit future recruits based on criteria that are developed through “extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders, including combat veterans.”
The criteria were released in a memo from the Pentagon on Friday, March 22. It detailed specifics that disqualify transgender people who have undergone sex changes and/or have a history of dysphoria to serve in the military while allowing current members who entered under the Obama administration to continue to serve.
Since July, the Trump administration has deemed the policy necessary because of medical costs and potential disruption. The statement is widely disputed by research that stretches back to the Obama era. As of 2016, less than 1% has been necessary out of the 6.28 billion-dollar military budget for transition use. In addition, since June 2016 US transgender members have been serving openly and without turmoil, and eighteen nations have allowed transgender people to serve much earlier including Canada and France.
If the policy goes through, it will affect an estimated 6,000 transgender service members. That’s a large price to pay, considering only an estimated 140 would’ve sought transitions. It could also set the US apart as one of the only modern nations to discriminate based on identity in recent years since Don’t Ask Don’t Tell prohibited LGBT+ members from serving openly until 2011.
In the end, the only negative effects the new policy will have is on transgender people. It could alienate them and force them to choose between their identity and the military. It’s based more on prejudice, rather than an actual detrimental effect on the military. In the past, court attempts have stopped the policies, and organizations have already begun to condemn his actions. Although, it won’t take effect immediately, the thought is still daunting.
Photo: Silke L. Martin via Flickr
(originally published March 24, 2018)