The Effects of the Transgender Military Ban

Jenna Lewis

The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) allowed Trump’s transgender military ban to be put into effect by a 5-4 vote Jan 22. Although SCOTUS did not vote on the merits of the case, they are putting the ban in place while the lower courts make their final decisions. This will prevent qualified transgender military personnel from supporting the United States “in any capacity.”

According to a tweet from President Donald Trump in July of 2017, the ban came about because of “the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.” A study in 2016 by the RAND Corporation estimated that between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender service members are in the active duty military and between 830 and 4,160 members are in the reserves. There are about 1.2 million active duty military service members overall, which means that transgender military members make up approximately 0.009 percent of the current military.

According to CNN, the cost for gender confirmation surgery and other procedures and medications trans service members need are estimated to be very low: about one-thousandth of one percent of the defense department’s budget. Due to its low cost, it is unlikely the purpose of the ban was to save money.

The administration said the courts should defer to the Defense Department’s judgment. A 2018 pentagon report said that having transgender troops “risks unnecessarily adding to the challenges faced by leaders at all levels, potentially fraying unit cohesion, and threatening good order and discipline.” (If that were true, institutions such as schools would have the same difficulty as they are groups of students lead by their teachers.)

Harvard-Westlake (HW) acknowledges that any LGBTQ+ students are not only accepted but welcomed into the community. However, it seems Trump’s Administration is trying to change policies surrounding transgender students as well.

Education Secretary Betsy Devos revoked guidelines set during the Obama Administration that attempted to make daily school life better for transgender students by allowing them to use the bathroom that is consistent with their gender identity. So, transgender children are not only being scrutinized in daily life with bullying and bathroom policies but those with dreams to become part of the military are no longer able to achieve them.

This affects everyone in our country because these discrepancies in the law set the precedent: we as a people cannot accept those who may be different or require special attention. This takes away from our core philosophy that all people are equal and deserve to be treated as such. With this amount of leniency, we could soon find ourselves without basic rights and abilities in our own country. Hopefully, this judgment can be changed for the future of all people, transgender or not.