On July 26, President Trump tweeted an announcement that transgender individuals would no longer be allowed to join the United States Armed Forces. The reason behind this ban was, as President Trump stated, the U.S.
Military “cannot be burden with the tremendous medical costs and disruptions that transgender in the military would entail.” Any transgender individuals already in the armed forces would not be allowed to reenlist.
His announcement caught everyone by surprise, including general and military experts Trump claimed he had consulted with. Jim Mattis, the defense secretary, was only given a day’s notice about the decision (NY Times).
This ban would reverse the gradual transformation of the military seen under President Obama. Last year Obama’s administration announced that transgender people could serve openly in the military. All combat roles were opened to women and the first openly gay Army secretary was appointed by Ashton B. Carter, Obama’s defense secretary.
Last month, Trump formally ordered a reversal of the 2016 order that allowed transgender people to openly serve in the military. It remained unclear of how this would affect active duty transgender service men. Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, said that for the time being, transgender service men will be allowed to stay in the military until he figures out how to implement Trump’s ban (Time).
Transgender individuals have been serving in the military for years and have had minimal costs on the military. Estimates of the number of transgender service members has varied widely, and has been as high as 15,000 (NY Times).
Since President Trump’s announcement, many people have spoken for or against this ban. Many politicians, on both parties, have spoken against this ban and called it unconstitutional. Many think this ban is a violation of constitutional rights. Some senators have found ways to temporarily halt this ban and protect current transgender service men.
On Sept. 11 , Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Susan Collins (R-ME) filled an amendment to the Pentagon budget bill that would stop the military from kicking out transgender servicemen simply based on their gender. It would also require Mattis to assess the effect enlisting transgender people would have on the military and report results by the end of the year.
Four days after the amendment was initially introduced, the two top members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jack Reed (D-RI) showed their support as co-sponsors. This is a major goaltowards protecting transgender service men. However, if the bill is passed, it might be stopped in the more conservative House of Representatives.
Many individuals have expressed their feelings supporting anyone that wants to join the military, regardless of gender identity.
“If individuals are willing to put on the uniform of our country, be deployed in war zones, and risk their lives for our freedoms,” said Collins, a Republican, “then we should be expressing our gratitude to them, not trying to exclude them from military service.”