In a series of tweets released earlier this year, President Donald Trump stated that the government would no longer accept transgender people into the military.
After the long awaited 2010 repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” President Trump’s decision is a move against the U.S. having an inclusive military.
President Trump cited the rising costs of transgender medical care, specifically the cost of gender transition and hormone therapy as the main reasons for his decision. According to a New York Times article by Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Helene Cooper, President Trump said that ban was announced in order to resolve a fight on Capitol Hill over whether or not taxpayer money should be used to pay for trans service member’s medical needs.
The amount of money spent would increase from $2.4 million to roughly $8.4 million a year. An infinitesimal amount, considering the military spends $84 million a year on erectile dysfunction drugs. The controversial decision to ban transgender people from the military is another ploy, it would seem, to deconstruct Obama-era policies and a move that alienated him from both the LGBTQ and military communities.
MSU Denver Associate Professor Christopher Jennings agrees that that the president’s actions were not unexpected. Jennings was a supply specialist in the Army and believes the ban bypasses the real issues with transgender people serving in the military.
“I have been in combat and the last thing one thinks about is the sexual orientation or gender identification of any other soldier around them. Ability in combat is assessed in training and humans are capable,” he said. “Women, men, anyone as long as they meet the mental and physical requirements needed to survive combat.”
Former MSU Denver student Kylar Paige, who identifies as trans, acknowledges this as a major setback.
“I think that it’s bullshit. It’s just another thing to make trans people out as sub-human or a burden on society,” Paige said. “We all know the argument about it being expensive to have trans people in the military is ridiculous, because of the Viagra point and because our military is literally the most funded in the world.”
The president presented himself as a pro-LGBTQ Republican during his campaign, stating “As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology,”at the Republican National Convention, according to The Washington Post.
“He was never pro-LGBT. He was just trying to get votes. I don’t think most people were surprised when he ‘turned around’ and started pulling all these anti-LGBT moves,” Paige said.
At this point, the future of those already serving in the military is unclear, many veterans are taking measures for the future.
Sarah Adler is an eight-year U.S. Army Veteran and president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of The American Veterans for Equal Rights.
“This is institutional discrimination that distracts from the real issues going on in presidency and our leadership.” she said. “However, this could be a segway into a deeper discrimination that systematically breaks down our forces and exacerbates issues of inequality.”
AVER is resolute in their decision to stand by veterans affected by this ban. “Our concern is what those discharges will be if they do happen. If they are dishonorable, then we rally as an organization to assist these veterans with working on their upgrades to ensure they have access to their full benefits.” Adler said.
Enlisting in the military is a sacrifice. People put their very existence on the line to defend this country and what it represents. If someone is brave enough to heed that call, who are we to deny them? Trans people have served in many military capacities. It’s time to think hard about the trans people who have fought for this country and the generations that will carry on that tradition. They are just as valid and valuable as any other soldier.
Paige called the ban dehumanizing and Jennings called it a distraction from the larger scandals of Trump’s presidency. What’s undeniable is the devastation it has caused in the trans community.
For more by Adam Barnhardt