President Trump does not seem to be shying away from controversy, having today announced his plan to ban transgender people from serving in any capacity in the military. Despite criticism and dissension around almost every single avenue of Trump’s administration, repealing health care, the Russia controversy, the press office turbulence to name a few, Trump deemed it a fit time to announce his bid to ban transgender individuals from serving “in any capacity in the U.S. military”.
Trump took to his medium of choice, Twitter, to share his rationale behind the decision, which was that the military “must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory”. According to Trump, transgender people serving in the military is synonymous with “tremendous medical costs and disruption”.
He explicitly referred to having transgender members of the military as a burden and claimed that the military’s priorities of victory are jeopardized and “burdened” when transgender people are part of the force.
There’s been a mass backlash to this new ban, from reputable politicians to celebrities to everything in between. A lot of the criticism is targeting Trump’s apparent hypocrisy, with people quoting him from an earlier promise to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, and now saying it is a burden to have transgender people serve in the military.
The Pentagon had ended its ban on transgender people serving in the military in 2016, under Obama’s administration. This policy was delayed in its implementation once Trump came to office, for six months, and as of today, was essentially dissipated.
To date, transgender service members served in secret, so fixed number and statistics around the number of members in the U.S. military is difficult to come by. However, according to a study by the RAND think-tank, there were somewhere between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender people in the military last year. The RAND study also said that having transgender service members would have little impact on the military operation, in terms of “unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness”.