Tweet, Tweet: President Bans Trans Service
Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the military today that there had been no change yet to Pentagon policy on transgender personnel. This follows President Donald Trump’s tweets yesterday announcing his plans to ban all transgenders serving in all branches of the military. The president tweeted his orders; however, he did not offer any guidelines such as “how” the transgenders will be removed from their service; “if” they will receive health benefits like other people ending their service; “what” kind of discharge they will receive.
Dunford Offers Assurances to U.S. Military
Dunford said, “There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance. Dunford also offered the assurance that the U.S. military would “treat all of our personnel with respect.”
The president announced on Wednesday that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving “in any capacity: in the US armed forces. This decision reverses a policy initially approved by the Defense Department under President Barack Obama. The policy is still under final review. Defense Secretary James Mattis announced last month that he was delaying enactment of the plan to begin allowing transgender individuals to join the US military.
Trumps first tweet yesterday read, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow…(continued)Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…(continued) victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”
One major obstacle the new policy creates is the fact that Trump’s decision came without a plan in place to implement it.
In 2016 the Rand Corp. was commissioned by the Defense Department which concluded that letting transgender people serve openly would have a “minimal impact” on readiness and health care costs, largely because there are so few in the military’s 1.3 million-member force. The study puts the number of transgenders, serving in the military, as between 1,320 and 6,630. The report concluded that the cost could range from $2.4 million to $8.4 million an amount that would represent an “exceedingly small proportion” of total health care expenditures.
Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Michigan, the vice chair of the congressional LGBT caucus, called Trump’s decision a “slap in the face to the thousands of transgender Americans already serving in the military. Anyone who is willing to put on the uniform of the United States and risk their life in service to our country should be celebrated as patriots, regardless of their gender identity. This short-sighted and discriminatory policy will make America less safe.”
The President’s decision represents the opposite of what he said during his 2016 campaign. He told various rallies that he would be a strong defender of the LGBT community – and even claimed he would be a better president for LGBT Americans than his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Following the terrorist attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, he said, “I will tell you who the better friend is and some day I believe that will be proven out big league.”
It seems that day may never come.