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New policy bans transgender community from military service

by Courtney Deeren - Copy Editor
Tue, Apr 23rd 2019 10:00 pm
unfair decision President Trump's proposed ban on transgender community in the military has officially been passed. This has affected the lives of many like Map Pesqueira, a transgender ROTC soldier who lost his military scholarship due to the military ban.
unfair decision President Trump's proposed ban on transgender community in the military has officially been passed. This has affected the lives of many like Map Pesqueira, a transgender ROTC soldier who lost his military scholarship due to the military ban.

On April 12, 2019, President Trump implemented his long awaited ban on transgender military members. For those who don’t remember, Trump initially tweeted about this two years ago, saying the military “will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity.” 

After several years and multiple lawsuits that worked to prevent or at the very least delay its implementation, in 2019, the ban was officially put into effect. Pentagon Spokesperson Lt. Col. Carla M. Gleason stated they were happy with the recent implementation of the ban. 

“We are pleased that we are able to create and implement our own accessions policy,” Gleason said. While the Pentagon states that transgender people can still serve if they pretend they aren’t transgender and serve as their birth gender, it still comes with many issues. 

First, this prohibits those who have already gone through reassignment surgery from joining and serving. But most importantly this type of language further shows this administration’s lack of understanding of different people. It suggests that those who are transgender have a choice to simply be whomever they want, deciding which gender to wear that day as if it were an outfit. 

What is further troubling is the grandfather clause which has been put in place. Those already serving will not be allowed to transition while in service and must conform to the uniform and fitness standards of their birth gender. However, there is currently no way of seeking out those individuals. 

“We are not going to hunt down transgender individuals and punish them for being transgender,” Gleason stated in an interview.  

This new policy, as the Pentagon is calling it, has sparked an outpouring of criticism. Among those criticising the ban is the American Medical Association (AMA), particularly in response to the Pentagon’s calling gender transitions a deficiency. 

“The only thing deficient is any medical science behind this decision,” the AMA said in a statement. 

In a statement found on BuzzFeed news, “The AMA has said repeatedly that there is no medically valid reason — including a diagnosis of gender dysphoria — to exclude transgender individuals from military service. Transgender service members should, as is the case with all personnel, receive the medical care they need. There is a global medical consensus about the efficacy of transgender health care, including treatment for gender dysphoria.” 

In light of this news, many members of the LGBTQ community shared the photo of Trump holding the pride flag at an event wondering where this “ally” was now. As part of his campaign Trump said he would be a champion for the community, however his time in office has painted a very different picture. 

Since his inauguration, Trump has done little to nothing to be a so-called champion for LGBTQ people. In fact, he has more frequently aligned himself with the conservative, evangelical Christian right’s views, as he has done and said some pretty anti-LGBTQ things during his time in office. 

This policy has many recalling the “don’t ask don’t tell” era that came to an end during Former President Barack Obama’s eight year long administration. 

While this particular notion refers to those serving in the military who identified as gay, one can’t help but see how this has similarities. Obama was able to overturn the barring of transgender people in 2016, only two years before Trump would ultimately overturn that decision. 

According to BBC, the exact number of those serving who identify as transgender is unknown but estimates place the number between  2,150 and 10,790 out of about 1.3 million total members serving, including reserves.

Part of Trump’s argument for banning transgender military members is the medical cost. 

Trump claimed in a tweet sent out, as part of the aforementioned tweet, that transgender military members cause “tremendous medical costs and disruption.” However, PBS reported that costs for transgender care are less than one percent of the total budget. 

In fact, The Washington Post reported that a Defense Department-commissioned study compared with an analysis provided by the Military Times found that the military spends nearly 10 times the amount of transitioning treatment on erectile dysfunction medication. 

To put that into perspective, the Defense Department study estimated an $8.4 million out of $6.2 billion increase in health care spending, at its most extreme. But the information provided by Military Times reported $84 million is spent on erectile dysfunction medications alone annually. Furthermore, the military spends $41.6 million annually on just viagra, which is five times what it would cost annually for transgender health care. 

Many questions have arisen from this new “policy.” Some are wondering if the military can afford to lose this many service members. Others are wondering how we can prioritize erectile dysfunction over a person’s body dysphoria. 

While it seems tough to compare sexual health to mental health in this capacity, the frustration and controversy over this issue continues to get worse.