The Big Question After Transgender Military Ban

What about those already serving?
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2017 11:58 AM CDT
The Big Question After Transgender Military Ban
This undated photo provided by Chelsea Manning shows a portrait of her she posted on May 18, upon her release from prison.   (Tim Travers Hawkins/Courtesy of Chelsea Manning via AP)

President Trump's decision to ban transgender people from serving "in any capacity" in the military raises a question, notes Slate. What about the thousands of transgender troops already in the ranks? A study by the RAND Corporation estimated that up to about 11,000 trans troops may be in the active military and reserves, while the military itself offered a mid-range estimate of about 4,000. The National Center for Transgender Equality thinks the figure is closer to 15,000. It wasn't immediately clear whether Trump would seek to remove them from the military in addition to banning new enrollment. Related coverage:

  • Background: Ash Carter, defense chief under President Obama, approved a policy in 2016 to accept transgender troops after a phase-in period. In June, however, current defense chief Jim Mattis delayed its implementation by a further six months.
  • Behind the move: It wasn't clear exactly what led to Trump's decision, but the New York Times notes that it comes amid debate on Capitol Hill over an amendment to prohibit the Pentagon from spending money on medical treatment related to transgender issues. The amendment was actually shot down, but some conservatives are balking at approving a $700 billion spending bill for the Pentagon unless the language is in place. Foreign Policy reports that VP Mike Pence is a key figure in this fight.

  • Trump's full statement: "After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail." It came in a series of tweets.
  • Backfire? Former Democratic Congressman Brad Carson, who worked on transgender policy during the Obama administration, tells the Washington Post that the matter is likely to end up in the courts now, which means the Pentagon could actually lose its say on incorporating transgender troops.
  • Chelsea Manning: The most famous transgender soldier of all mocked the move on Twitter (emojis not included): "so, biggest baddest most $$ military on earth cries about a few trans people but funds the F-35? sounds like cowardice." The ACLU also slammed the move, saying that studies have shown there are no "military readiness drawbacks associated with allowing trans people to fight for their country" and accusing Trump of "trying to score cheap political points."
  • In praise: "This is a great decision and it overturns a profoundly stupid and politically driven decision" by the Obama administration, argues a post at RedState. The medical costs alone related to trans soldiers make it untenable, writes blogger streiff. (RAND estimated the related costs would be "relatively low," between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually.)
  • 2018: Jonathan Swan of Axios suggests that Trump made the move with the 2018 election in mind. He quotes a White House official talking about "blue-collar voters."
(More transgender stories.)

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