President Trump took to Twitter to announce a ban on transgender people serving in the military in any capacity. In a series of Tweets, Trump said, “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. 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 [sic].” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubled down on Trump’s rhetoric, claiming this ban is “a decision about military readiness.”
This ban reverses the Obama administration’s decision that trans people can serve in the military back in 2016. Needless to say, Trump’s tweets were met with both surprise and revulsion.
My fellow trans Americans despite what some may say your existence is valuable. Your lives, safety, & service matter. #TransIsBeautiful
— Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) July 26, 2017
The notion that the healthcare of transgender servicemen and women simply cost too much is preposterous. We’re acting like hormone replacement injections cost a million dollars a needle; they don’t. According to research conducted by the RAND corporation, healthcare for transgender service members would only trigger a $2.4 million to $8.4 million increase in costs, which amounts to a 0.04 to 0.13-percent increase overall. Yeah, not exactly crazy. It’s especially not crazy considering how much the military spends covering erectile dysfunction drugs for military personnel: $84.24 million, and $41.6 million on Viagra alone. If the military can cover sexual performance pills to help out their servicemen, they can probably afford to help out some transgender men and women as well. It’s not just healthcare that is subject to a lot of financial waste in the military; 11 new planes cost up to $1.8 billion dollars! So the idea that medical costs for medication or reassignment surgery are just too much of a financial burden on the military’s budget is absolutely absurd.
so, biggest baddest most $$ military on earth cries about a few trans people ? but funds the F-35? ? sounds like cowardice ??? #WeGotThis
— Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea) July 26, 2017
So, let’s get down to what this is really about: Politics. According to an unnamed administration official, Trump’s ban forces Democrats to take ownership of trans rights in more socially conservatives but politically competitive states like Ohio and Wisconsin.
Just to be clear, Trump decided to leave the future, health, and job security of thousands of transgender military personnel up in the air so that he can play politics. This, coming from the same man who tweeted the following just a year ago:
Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 14, 2016
While everyone from senators to celebrities–yeah, even Trump voter and notable transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner–have decried Trump’s decision, there’s some talk about whether or not this ban is all that bad. I couldn’t scroll down my Twitter timeline without seeing some people note that, given how controversial the US military is in the first place, it’s not the end of the world that trans people can’t participate in that system. There are also several people who are upset that this news is garnering more attention than any news about the murder of trans women, a horrific and all too common crime.
I understand that take, but it’s super short sighted. I’m highly critical of police departments given the prevalence of police brutality, but a ban on transgender, black, female, or other marginalized people from the police force would be equally disturbing to me. Why? Because it’s never a good sign when a marginalized group is blatantly discriminated against, period. The President of the United States–arguably the most powerful person in the world–declaring that trans people are too much of a burden on the US militar should alarm anyone, no matter how you feel about the military’s politics. This opens the door to legitimizing discrimination of trans people on the federal level, and even in the private sector. This action dehumanizes trans people and provides a slippery slope for a decrease in protections for trans people, which have only recently begun to be instated. This is less about the awfulness of trans people not being allowed in the military and more about the awfulness of trans people being treated as second class citizens, denied a career, and derided as a group of people whose very existence is seen with skepticism.
It’s unclear what exactly happens next; Trump could change his mind, the ACLU could fight the administration and win, a meteor could hit earth, making all this fuss irrelevant. But you should definitely stay tuned, because this could be a sign of more nonsense to come.
What do you think of this new ban? Tell us in the comments!