Man, who would’ve thought barring an entire group of people from joining the U.S. military would have lasting, negative effects on the organization? According to a group of former military physicians, that’s exactly what happened as a result of the Trump administration banning transgender people from enlisting.
I promise I’m just as not-surprised as you are.
The Hill reports that while the Trump administration argued that allowing transgender people to serve in the armed forces would harm unit cohesion and combat readiness, the report, authored by three former military physicians and the Palm Center, a research institute and LGBTQ advocacy group, found that the opposite occurred. “Contrary to claims by the president and the Pentagon that allowing transgender service would be disruptive and costly, the ban itself has harmed readiness,” the report reads.
In 2016, the Obama administration issued a policy that allowed transgender people to openly serve in the military, but because Trump is who he is, he tweeted in 2017 that he would reverse the policy. Sure enough, in 2019 the Trump administration barred all transgender folks from enlisting.
I honestly thought this whole ban was illegal, because, you know, it’s deadass discrimination. Then I remembered I live in a country where half of the population, judges and politicians included, believe “trans people are people,” is somehow a transgressive statement, and not, like, a basic fact.
An-y-way! Back to the news.
From The Hill:
The report’s findings were compiled from public statements made by senior officials, in-depth interviews with transgender service members, survey data and interviews with service academies’ faculty.
The Palm Center estimates that nearly 15,000 transgender service members serve in the military, based on Pentagon data.
Under the Trump administration policy, transgender service members can only continue serving if they do so as the sex they were assigned at birth, unless they are granted a waiver. The policy also allows those who came out under the Obama administration policy to continue serving openly. Any new transgender enlistees, however, are barred from service.
Because of the exceptions, however, the Pentagon argues the policy is not a ban.
The study found that the ban wound up artificially deflating the military’s recruitment pool by an estimated 205,850 transgender people who would’ve otherwise been eligible to serve. While those who had already enlisted before the ban were still allowed to serve, the report found that the ban fostered an openly transphobic environment, which, believe it or not, has an adverse effect on unit cohesion and combat readiness.
An aviation electronics technician in the Navy told the researchers that the ban sent the message that transgender service members were not subject to the same level of care and treatment as their peers.
“The ban has kind of emboldened everybody to be transphobic again. There’s no protections,” she said. “Before the ban, the Navy’s stance was that transgender people are real people and they have a status and we’re going to help them transition to what they need to be so they can continue to serve...But now that the ban has been reinstated, there’s no longer anyone trying to accept us anymore.”
As a result of the Obama-era policy being upheld to allow transgender people who already enlisted to serve, the researchers believe that President-elect Joe Biden could reverse the ban within his first 30 days. On the campaign trail, Biden already pledged to revert back to the Obama-era policy.
“On day one of my presidency, I will begin reinstating LGBTQ protections President Trump has rolled back, including ensuring transgender individuals can openly serve in the military,” Biden said in February.
Here’s hoping he keeps that promise. Trans people already have to experience enough bullshit by simply existing, it’d be nice if the president of the United States didn’t feel the need to add to the load.