The morning of Wednesday, July 26th, President Donald Trump announced via Twitter (seemingly the President’s favorite form of communicating with the American populace) that the United States Military would no longer be accepting transgender and transexual indivuals amongst their ranks. Claiming that this was in response to the apparent medical costs that caring for such individuals would require, Trump stated that the Military was called to focus on “decisive and overwhelming victory,” and could not afford to have their attention torn away by the need to pay for the upkeep and care of trans soldiers. This flies in the face of reforms made in 2016, just one year prior to President Trump taking office, when the Pentagon openly ended the ban on trans individuals from serving in the armed forces.
The decision on the president’s part to block trans people from serving openly in our military is especially baffling, considering the long history non-binary people have had in defending our nation. Trans people such as Kristin Beck, who left the prestigious S.E.A.L Team 6 just months before it conducted the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, have served for decades in elite task forces from all branches of the military. Oftentimes, they’ve had to do so without letting any of their comrades know that they were trans, as per the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy the U.S. had implemented since 1994 under the Clinton administration. This never stopped them from shedding their own blood and risking their lives in name of our country, and in retrospect, the discipline and restraint those soldiers had to show in keeping their identities secret while making these sacrifices only exemplifies the power and fortitude they carry.
The vice-grip the DADT policy had on the silence of our troops also meant that trans people were, and are, going to be operated on just as readily as their brothers in arms who identify as their assigned genders. This doesn’t seem to have ever had much of an ill effect on the spending of our military in matters of medical care, and thus doesn’t seem to have detracted from the efficiency with which they have accomplished their goals in the past. It certainly hasn’t hindered what progress they’ve made abroad in the last ten years fighting forces such as ISIS, nor has it held them back from defending the homeland, where medical care isn’t nearly as difficult to come by as it is on the battlefields overseas.
If anything, the trans members of our military elite have shown the discipline necessary to achieve the victory President Trump claims he is so focused on achieving, and in many cases, they’ve helped seize such victories time and time again. To ban them is not only to deny our soldiers comrades to keep them safe, but to pull active warriors from the front lines, who often have as much physical prowess and experience as the people they fight alongside. Medical costs or no, this is a poor military decision, and poor humanitarian one a that.