Ban on transgender military personnel goes into effect

The Department of Defense (DOD) rolled out President Donald Trump’s Transgender Service Member Ban on April 12.

This comes almost two years after President Donald Trump announced a similar transgender military ban via Twitter. Trump tweeted, “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.”

The ban prevents those who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria from joining any branch of the military. It also discharges any troops seeking transitional treatments while serving in the military.  The AP reports that there are approximately 14,700 soldiers who are transgender that currently serve. Under the new ban, about 13,700 service members would be discharged.

The policy also states that if a transgender person wishes to serve or continue serving in the Armed Forces they must serve as the gender they were assigned at birth. Currently, any troops that signed their enlistment contract and have begun transitional therapy before April 12 will be able to continue with hormone treatments and their gender transition regardless of the ban. After April 12, people with a Gender Dysphoria diagnosis will not be able to join the military at all. Any troops who receive a Gender Dysphoria diagnosis after April 12 will be barred from any transitional treatments and forced to serve as their birth gender.

Several political analysts are comparing the transgender military ban to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), a policy that lasted 1993 to 2011. DADT prohibited any homosexual or bisexual person from disclosing their sexual orientation or speaking about any homosexual relationships while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, denounced the ban in a statement taken from April 9, “The President’s revival of his bigoted, disgusting ban on transgender service members is a stunning attack on the patriots who keep us safe and on the most fundamental ideals of our nation,” Pelosi said. “The President’s years-long insistence on his cowardly ban makes clear that prejudice, not patriotism, guides his decisions.”

In the memo released by the DOD, it’s stated that “Among other things, the policies set forth by the Secretary of Defense state that transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria — individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery — are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances.”  This statement contradicts the many studies done that show transition treatments cost $2.4 – $8.4 million dollars annually. For comparison, the military spends $84 million dollars annually on erectile dysfunction medication, which is ten times the cost of transitional medical treatments. The total budget for the military’s annual health care is $50 billion dollars.

This comes only one month after the Supreme Court deemed the ban constitutional by a 5-4 vote.