Since Trump announced via Twitter that transgender individuals would not be allowed to openly serve in the military, he has been met with an onslaught of challenges from advocacy groups, medical/research organizations and even his own Republican party members.
“Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving,” Senator John McCain, Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in response to Trump’s announcement. “There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity.”
The Pentagon has announced there will be no change in transgender policy until the president submits a decision to be reviewed by the Secretary of Defense and has been issued implemented guidance, according to Stars and Stripes.
“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in a letter to top military personnel.
Tump cited “tremendous medical costs and disruption” to the military on Twitter to justify his decision on the ban.
The American Medical Association released a statement Wednesday debunking the argument that the trans ban was based on medical necessity.
“There is no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals from military service,” David Barbe, President of the American Medical Association said. “Transgender individuals are serving their country with honor, and they should be allowed to continue doing so.”
Barbe continued, “According to the Rand study on the impact of transgender individuals in the military, the financial cost is a rounding error in the defense budget and should not be used as an excuse to deny patriotic Americans an opportunity to serve their country. We should be honoring their service — not trying to end it.”
The Rand study crunched the numbers for the cost and impact of transgender individuals serving openly in the military and found that there would be minimal impact on readiness and health care costs.
The study estimates that the number of transgender individuals currently serving in the military is between 1,320 and 6,630 out of the total 1.3 million service members, and only a small portion of them would be expected to seek medical treatments related to their gender status.
“Only a small portion of service members would likely see gender transition-related medical treatments that would affect their deployability or health care costs,” Agnes Gereben Schaefer, lead author of the Rand study, said.
Between 30 and 140 new hormone treatments are estimated to be initiated each year, and 25 to 130 gender transition-related surgeries estimated to be utilized among active service members. The additional health care costs of transgender service members could total between $2.4 million and $8.4 million, translating to an approximate 0.13 percent increase.
“We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our community is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so — and should be treated as the patriots they are.”
This issue is not isolated to the United States. Whether or not to allow transgender personnel to serve in the military has been a topic of discussion for many different countries.
The Rand study included data from eighteen other countries who allow transgender personnel to serve in their militaries openly, using the most progressive of them to outline effective strategies for healthcare management, antidiscrimination and effective policies.
“The foreign militaries we studies have reported harassment and bullying incidents, but these effects have been mitigated by having clear policies and comprehensive training across their militaries,” Schaefer said.
By banning transgender individuals from serving in the military, the United States is taking a step back in terms of progress that has already been achieved and perfected by a number of international militaries.
Sarah Kate Ellis of GLAAD responded to the decision by saying, “President Trump today issued a direct attack on transgender Americans, and his administration will stop at nothing to implement its anti-LGBTQ ideology within our government — even if it means denying some of our bravest Americans the right to serve and protect our nation.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has vowed to take up legal action on behalf of anyone dismissed following the decision, saying “This is an outrageous and desperate action. The thousands of transgender service members serving on the front lines for this country deserve better than a commander-in-chief who rejects their basic humanity.”