On Trump's transgender military ban
Historically, changes in military policies have been indicative of broader fights for social change in America. For example, the military’s desegregation in 1948 reflected the Civil Rights movement’s progress made around racial discrimination against African Americans, and the 2011 repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” a policy that banned openly gay citizens from serving in the military, reflected the progress the LGBT movement had made (in fact, gay marriage was legalized soon after). So in the wake of this progress, it was all the more upsetting when Trump declared a ban on transgender people serving in the military last Wednesday.
Though Trump claimed to have consulted with top military officials about this ban, General Joseph Dunford stated that he would not remove transgender people from the military until further “direction has been received by the secretary of defense and the secretary has issued implementation guidance,” indicating that he had little knowledge of the ban before Trump announced it. LGBT legal organization Lambda Legal has also announced that they will sue the administration over the ban.
And it makes sense that they want to, since it’s clear that this ban isn’t actually about cost, but about discriminating against transgender people. A Rand Corporation study estimates that about 2,000 to 7,000 active military members are transgender and an additional 1,500 to 4,000 serve in the reserves. Trump cited “tremendous medical costs and disruption” as the reasons for this ban, yet the Rand study also estimated that the health care costs associated with trans members would only be about $2.4 million to $8.4 million a year, which is a very small amount compared to the rest of the military budget as well as other expenditures of Trump’s administration.
Trump’s ban is facing plenty of opposition not just from Lambda Legal, but also from U.S. citizens and military officials. Fifty-six retired generals and admirals signed a letter against the transgender military ban, stating that the financial argument against trans people serving in the military is “without merit” and that transgender troops are not a “disruption,” as Trump claimed but “have been serving honorably and openly for the past year, and have been widely praised by commanders.”
Ultimately, this ban is yet another example of how Trump continues to alienate Americans who are not white, upper-class, or male. Trump’s policies seek to damage marginalized “others” in an attempt to bring people like him closer together and to give them more power. Instead of working for all Americans, Trump, who once claimed to be a champion for the LGBTQ community, has shown that he is an enemy, not an ally, to that group and many others.
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