Wednesday morning President Donald Trump tweeted that he will be reversing President Obama’s decision to allow transgender troops to serve openly in the United States military. In fact, Trump says that he will ban all transgender individuals from serving “in any capacity.” This policy could affect an estimated 3,000 to 15,000 Americans who currently serve in addition to thousands who hope to serve in the future.
Many people, myself included, disagree with Trump and this policy he wishes to put into place. Civil rights activists have responded to Trump’s announcement saying that it’s a cruel policy and that it ignores many facts surrounding transgender military service. Tarah Demant, the director of Amnesty International USA's Gender, Sexuality, and Identity program, said that this announcement “violates human rights of all transgender Americans,” and “It lays bare the President's prejudice and underlines the fact that creating policy based on bigotry is becoming a dangerous and a cruel pattern for President Trump. The administration continues to target minority communities without pause and without facts.”
Trump’s reasoning behind this new policy is that “our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.” However, a study conducted by the RAND corporation found that the costs of gender transition health care treatments are relatively low and wouldn’t really be a burden to the military as Trump is suggesting. According to their study, health care for transgender individuals would only be a 0.04 to 0.13-percent increase to the total health care budget for the military.
The way I see it, transgender people have served in the military for decades and it hasn’t been a “problem” until they came out. Why does it matter if they identify as a gender that is different than what they were born as? These are people who only make up a few thousand among the 1.3 million active-duty members. These people have volunteered their service and have put their lives on the line and yet their President is denying them their dignity and their equality. This ban is not only an insult to those it effects but also to the country. The United States prides itself in freedom and equality, and yet not everyone is free to be themselves and not everyone is equal. In my opinion, this is pure discrimination and I am ashamed that this is the reality of the country we live in.