Trump Administration’s Transgender Military Ban Is Now In Effect

In July of 2017, President Trump tweeted that transgender people will not be allowed “to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,” because of supposed medical costs and disruptions. On April 12, 2019, these dangerous words became dangerous actions.

Under Barack Obama, former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter lifted the Pentagon’s ban on transgender individuals serving openly in the military and said that the Pentagon would cover medical costs for transitioning service members.

In August of the very next year, the Trump administration attempted to reinstate the ban and was soon thereafter sued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of six transgender individuals actively serving. However, in January of this year, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of the administration and by March the Department of Defense (DoD) approved the finalized version of the ban.

Now, no one diagnosed with gender dysphoria who are taking hormones or who has received gender-affirming surgery will be allowed to enlist. Those currently serving can be discharged if they do not present as their given sex.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), gender dysphoria “involves a conflict between a person's physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify.”

Following approval of the Pentagon’s ban, the President of the American Medical Association (AMA) released a statement expressing concern that the administration was considering gender dysphoria a deficiency, stating that there "is no medically valid reason — including a diagnosis of gender dysphoria — to exclude transgender individuals from military service." Furthermore, it emphasized that transgender service members should not only be allowed to serve but should also receive the medical care they need.

Related: For the American Lawmakers in the Back: Trans People are People

A study done in 2016 by the RAND Corporation found that the costs of the Military Health Systems would increase by $2.4 million to $8.4 million per year if services were extended to transgender care, like gender reassignment surgeries. While this may seem like a dramatic change, it actually only represents a very small portion of active-component health care expenditures.

“There is a global medical consensus about the efficacy of transgender health care, including treatment for gender dysphoria,” states the AMA.

RAND also reports that the United States is not the only country who has transgender individuals serving in its military. In fact, at the time of the study, 18 countries had transgender service members and reported no negative impact on operational effectiveness, readiness or cohesion of the force.

There is an estimated number of 14,700 transgender individuals who are capable, qualified and willing to serve. There is no evidence supporting the claims that gender dysphoria causes any deficiencies or that transgender service members cause any financial burden or disruption.

This ban is resurrecting the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy leading to the continued stigmatization and ostracization of transgender individuals. In doing so the DoD is not only barring individuals from completing a patriotic duty, but they are further emphasizing the administration’s belief that being transgender is a deficiency, opening the door for further discrimination.