Donald Trump’s transgender military ban has gone into effect today, potentially jeopardizing the livelihoods of thousands.
Almost two years after Trump first announced on Twitter that he was planning to enact the policy and the formal policy – announced in March 2018 – being blocked by four injunctions – the ban has successfully been enacted.
According to the Palm Center, the newly enacted legislation will only allow applicants with a history of gender dysphoria if they can show 36 consecutive months in their birth gender immediately prior to enlisting. Those accepted must serve in their birth gender. If they had undergone gender transition in the past, they are automatically disqualified.
As for those currently enlisted, transgender service member must agree to serve in their birth gender indefinitely and maintain fitness without medical support for gender dysphoria to be allowed to remain in service. Those who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria and require gender-transition-related medical care will be subject to separation.
A select few already-enlisted troops don’t stand to lose their jobs: those who were diagnosed with gender dysphoria before the policy took effect, active members who transitioned three years prior to enlisting, and those who have no plans to transition medically while serving.
The director of the Palm Center, Aaron Belkin, told the Advocate that only 937 transgender servicemembers meet these qualifications for exemption from the ban.
“That doesn’t mean that those 937 troops will be safe,” Belkin said. “They’re not protected. What that means is that the Secretary of Defense could change their mind tomorrow and say, ‘Oh, you know what? Actually, I don’t think these 937 troops should be grandfathered.’ Or the President of the United States could say that, and then the troops would be out.”
The Palm Center estimated that about 14,700 transgender individuals are currently serving in the military, which is thought to be the largest employer of transgender people.
“The military is the largest employers in the nation and, as the U.S. Trans Survey found, transgender people are twice as likely to have served in the Armed Forces as the general population,” Gillian Bransetter, media relations manager for the National Center for Transgender Equality, told the Advocate.
The U.S. Trans Survey found in 2015 that 18 percent of all trans people had served in the military.
A poll from Qunnipiac University found that 70 percent of Americans supported transgender people serving in the military. Many have criticized the ban, from both sides of the political spectrum. Conservative political commentator Meghan McCain tweeted on Wednesday (April 10), calling the ban “discriminatory…unfair, un-American, and dangerous,” while Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it an “act of cruelty.”
It is indefensible that Trump's ban on Transgender troops is being implemented on Friday. This discriminatory policy will lead Transgender service members, patriots who have decided to serve their nation, to live in the shadows.
Trump has claimed the reason for banning transgender military members is to cut on the “tremendous” costs to support those transitioning. However, the RAND Corporation estimated that these costs are between $2.4 million and $8.4 million, a miniscule fraction of the estimated $989 billion military budget.