The unfounded military ban


In July of 2017, President Donald Trump tweeted that the military would no longer allow transgender people to serve in any capacity in order to prevent high medical costs and disruption caused by transgender people. After hearing this, I originally thought that there was no way this was going to pass, because I figured our government would see this as discrimination and prevent it from happening.

On Jan. 22, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Trump’s transgender military ban to go into effect, while the issue is still being looked over by the lower courts to see if it’s unconstitutional. For the thousands of openly transgender servicemen and women already in the military, they would be allowed to continue to serve as long as they begin to identify with their gender given at birth and do not seek gender reassignment surgery.

When I first heard about it, I was appalled at the court’s decision. I didn’t understand how something like this was allowed to happen. But I decided to have faith in our government and trust they were making decisions in order to do what’s best for its people, because maybe there were deeper factors I didn’t understand. So far, I have only been disappointed.

Transgender individuals have been openly serving in the military for over two years since one of Obama’s final policies allowed them to do so. However, with the aid of the Supreme Court, Trump has reversed this. According to a White House memorandum in 2017, reasons for the policy include medical costs and disruption transgender troops may cause.

In an interview with PBS in August of 2017, political scientist Agnes Gereben Schaefer went into detail about her study on the matter. Transgender soldiers were estimated to cost between $2.4 and $8.4 million per year as the result of things like surgeries and different hormone supplements. This would be anywhere from one tenth to four tenths of a percent of the active component healthcare budget. I was not expecting such a low percent after Trump referred to these numbers as “tremendous medical costs” in a tweet about the ban. Schaefer’s studies also concluded that 18 other countries that allowed openly transgender individuals to serve in the military only had concerns with bullying, but those issues were solved through policy.

After reading the comments on various articles and news segments, it seems that another argument in support of the ban is that transgender people are mentally ill if they are suffering from gender dysphoria, and mentally ill people should not be allowed in the military. Gender dysphoria is the distress and confusion one feels as a result of the gender they were given at birth. This would not affect one’s cognition, motor skills, hand-eye coordination or ability to handle a firearm. Gender dysphoria would not prevent an individual from effectively serving in the military.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see a less than one percent fee as a tremendous cost. I also don’t see how transgender people being themselves would cause major disruptions when other countries haven’t been having the same issues. I see this ban as causing more division and disruption than transgender individuals would have in the military in the first place. Why would our government, that claims to care about and support its soldiers, alienate thousands of men and women that voluntarily put their life on the line and make them feel unwanted by judging them on a trait that has nothing to do with their ability to serve their country?