On July 26th 2017, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that the United States Army would no longer accept applicants who identified as transgender.
His official reason was as follows; it would lead to a “tremendous” medical cost, due to people needing medication to transition. Politico believes it had to do with securing a spending bill, after Republicans had an internal fight on the issue that could have derailed Trump’s bill.
In fact, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Sulking, stated that he “was not aware” of the announcement. The guy in charge of Veterans Affairs had absolutely no clue, according to Politico, but he sure did back up Trump’s claims about cost on radio show Rita Cosby on 77WABC.
However, as the SBS and a Rand Corporation study found out, not many would seek this. In fact, it would only add between $2.4 million and $8.4 million. It seems like a lot, but when you consider the Pentagon’s defence budget is in excess of $600 billion, it put things in perspective.
It is funny, how within a year so much can change. Last year, on June 30th, Obama’s defence secretary, Ash Carter, said the military could no longer discharge or deny people entry based on their gender identity.
These people were openly encouraged to stand true to who they are, before being ripped to shreds for doing just that. These people committed serving their country. They did something so many people wouldn’t – they put their lives on the line. How can they be targeted for that? An estimated 1320 to 15000 troops will no longer be defending America, and the world. Is that something we can really risk?
Carter spoke out after Trump’s announcement, stating, “To choose service members on other grounds than military qualifications is social policy and has no place in our military. This action would also send the wrong signal to a younger generation thinking about military service.”
However, this certainly isn’t the first time social policy has influenced the U.S. military. Whilst African Americans had been allowed to fight in the military, it wasn’t until 1948 there was desegregation in the army. This meant that soldiers of colour were routinely assigned to different units than their white counterparts. There were few exceptions, but segregation was very much the policy. It also created an equal opportunity advisory committee.
This was changed by Executive Order 9981 from President Truman’s office. It also happened on July 26th, the same day Trump announced his transgender ban.
“It is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country’s defence,” the order read.
“The policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin,” it continued.
Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals were also not allowed to be open about their sexuality until September 20, 2011. From 1994, the policy in place was “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Which meant if you had a sexuality besides heterosexual, you could join, as long as you kept it to yourself. You could be discharged if your sexuality was found out. Qualified men and women were kicked out of the army and heavily discriminated against. It was disgusting. The thought is still disgusting.
Whilst the anchor in the below video is fictional, this soldier really was booed at a Republican debate. How he stands up for that soldier will bring a tear to your eye.
Of course, you can imagine several didn’t agree with Trump’s move. Retired Army Sergeant Shane Ortega was the first out trans soldier in the U.S. military. He told Mic, “To be quite frank, my first thought was, ‘Fuck!’ Trump is a man who is literally a war-dodger, who comes from a life of privilege and silver spoon, who has no connection to reality whatsoever, and I don’t know how much more the American public needs to see that.”
According to The Guardian, top military officials wrote a letter calling for a reverse of the ban.
They stated, “This proposed ban, if implemented, would cause significant disruptions, deprive the military of mission-critical talent and compromise the integrity of transgender troops who would be forced to live a lie, as well as non-transgender peers who would be forced to choose between reporting their comrades or disobeying policy.”
It is impossible to fathom that a President can just go out and tweet policy changes, with absolutely no explanation. How he can change the lives of so many, and not be held accountable.
These people fight every day. These people put themselves in the firing line so we can live to breathe another day, and they don’t get one ounce of respect in return. They don’t get the opportunity to live life, a full life, in the way that they want. How is that fair?
Simply, it isn’t.