A transgender veteran I spoke to called the policy “insulting and unjust.”
On July 26, 2017, Donald Trump woke up sometime before 5:55am and made an announcement on Twitter:
For the record, a 2016 RAND Corporation study concluded that “the costs of gender transition-related health care treatment are relatively low,” and “previous integration efforts and the experiences of foreign militaries indicate a minimal likely impact on force readiness.”
Though the hastily-constructed policy remained caught in court for a while, the Trump administration ultimately prevailed and the ban went into effect today. Over 14,000 employees of the Department of Defense who are transgender will now be fired.
The military is the largest employer in the US, and transgender people are twice as likely to enlist. A Quinnipiac poll released this January found that 70% of people in the United States believe transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military, though 50% of Republicans believe they should not be allowed to.
I asked former Navy Cryptologic Technician Second Class Surface Warfare Specialist Sophia Alexander, who identifies as a transgender woman, for her perspective on the ban. Alexander, who served from 2008–2014 aboard the USS Mobile Bay for two deployments to the Persian Gulf during periods of escalated tension with Iran, responded with the following statement:
This ban is shocking and will hurt military readiness and our ability to effectively find the best talent to prosecute a war fighting mission — the exact point of military recruitment and personnel.
It is additionally insulting and unjust to patriotic Americans who have volunteered or would like to volunteer to defend their nation, it is uninformed and contrary to evidence and expert opinion — including senior military leadership — and it is particularly insane and hypocritical coming from someone who is a five time draft dodger and who thinks they’re smart for not paying their taxes.
Alexander, like many other transgender veterans who have shared their stories and perspectives, takes great pride in her service. She informed me that during her second deployment, the Mobile Bay was awarded the Spokane Trophy for “best surface warfare ship” in the Navy and an “unprecedented four consecutive Battle E awards.”
As the transgender military ban takes effect, the President’s early morning impulse will indefinitely end the careers of thousands of individuals who dedicated themselves to serving the military he commands — all so that he can score political points with his base.