July 27, 2017

Trump reinstates ban on transgender people serving in the US military

by Neha Monga

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced that he will not allow transgender people to serve in the US military, through a series of tweets. The move to ban transgenders has drawn condemnation from rights groups and some law makers in both parties as discrimination with purely political motives, however the decision is being praised by the conservative activists and some Republicans.

The decision to end the ban on transgender people serving openly in the military was taken by the Obama administration in 2016. However, Ash Carter, the Defence secretary under Obama, allowed for a year-long review process to allow the Pentagon to determine how it would accept new transgender recruits into the military.

Trump’s decision to reinstate the ban is seen as a reversal of the policy approved under President Barack Obama. Defence Secretary James Mattis announced last month that he was delaying enactment of the plan to begin allowing transgender individuals to join the US military.

“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,” Trump said in a series of tweets Wednesday morning. “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.”

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“Thank you,” he added.

Trump’s decision was rather abrupt which left White House without any answers to basic questions about how it would be carried out, what would happen to openly transgender people on active duty.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary, said transgender service “erodes military readiness and unit cohesion” citing health costs. She said the move was based on a “military decision” and is “not meant to be anything more than” that.

Sanders said the decision was made based “on what was best for the military” and was made in council with the President’s national security team.

A 2016 RAND corp study concluded that letting transgender people serve openly would have a “minimal impact” on readiness and health care costs, largely because there are so few in the military’s 1.3 million-member force.

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The study put the number of transgender people in the military between 1,320 and 6,630. Rand also predicted that the inclusion of transgender people in the military would cause a 0.13% increase in healthcare spending (approximately $8.4m), an amount that would represent an “exceedingly small proportion” of total health care expenditures.

The President’s decision is in complete contrast to his 2016 campaign rhetoric, where he said he would be a strong defender of the LGBT community — and even claimed he would be a better president for LGBT Americans than his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

With so many elements of the ban still unclear, it is hard to say just who will be affected.

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