During his presidential campaign, President Donald Trump once said, “I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens.”
Trump announced through a series of tweets July 26 that the U.S. will not “accept or allow” transgender people to join the military, contradicting his preliminary promise.
He tweeted: “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.”
This reverses the former decision made by the Obama administration, which allowed transgender people to serve and receive coverage for any treatment deemed medically necessary by their doctors, including reproductive surgery and hormone therapy. President Obama’s defense secretary Ashton Carter also opened combat roles to women, and Obama appointed the first openly gay Secretary of the Army.
And according to a RAND Corporation study, as many as 11,000 transgender people currently serve in the reserves and on active duty.
But in familiar Trump fashion, we are taking a step back from progress and discarding these sensible developments our nation long awaited.
“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,” he said on Twitter.
These people have selflessly volunteered to protect the safety and security of our nation, and yet, our nation will not protect the safety and security of them merely based upon the gender with which they identify — something that certainly should not factor into their desire to heroically defend the people of their country. All that matters is if they meet the predetermined military qualifications.
Besides, the associated costs are very minimal when considering the hefty U.S. military expenditure. The military budget continues to sharply rise, with the proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 at a whopping $824.7 billion. The military budget is one budget that is consistently never downsized, so saying that the decision is based on costs does not reflect the true motives behind the act of hate.
Trump’s defense secretary James Mattis said last month, “Put another way, how will the decision affect the ability of America’s military to defend the nation? It is against this standard that I provide the following guidance on the way forward in accessing transgender individuals into the military services.”
Saying that someone’s gender dictates their ability to defend the nation — or anything in that matter — is incredibly ill-informed.
Since the ban was announced, many public figures have spoken against it. “[The ban] has no place in our military,” Carter said.