Local Equality Groups Respond to Trump Ban on Trans People in the Military
Local LGBTQ equality groups have responded to President Donald Trump’s Twitter announcement this morning that “the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” Along with obvious opposition, the tweet was received with confusion as to what would happen to trans individuals currently on active duty.
The announcement, which came in a series of three tweets, unravels efforts started last year, by former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, to allow trans people to be open in the military without fear of being discharged. More work was to be done this summer to protect trans enlistees from being denied entry based how they identify, but it was delayed.
It also follows an attempted amendment to the $700 billion defense bill last week that, for reasons related to cost, would no longer include gender reassignment-related services under military insurance, said Equality Ohio Communications Director Grant Stancliff.
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory,” read Trump’s tweets, “and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
“Trans folks really are a small minority in the military,” Stancliff said in response, “and there’s a widely circulated study that basically says the cost in the budget would be a 10th of a percent, like .13 percent.”
What the implementation of this new Twitter policy looks like is yet to be determined, but Stancliff said it could complicate access to programs for trans veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Trans equality group National Center for Transgender Equality puts the estimate of trans veterans at 150,000, and approximates that 15,000 are currently on active duty, compared to another study by RAND documenting between 2,450 and 6,630 trans people currently serving in the military.
A policy like this could create a new risk for these active members, who are already more vulnerable to physical and sexual assault.
“They have a hard go of it already, and so for a billionaire, draft-dodging president to bully — just aggressively bully trans people casually on social media — I think it’s just callous and of extraordinarily low character,” Stancliff said.
Stonewall Columbus had their own response, “denouncing” the president’s decision and reminding the community of the Central Ohio LGBTQ Veterans Support Group the organization hosts. The program, though, connects individuals to resources in the VA, which may be subject to change following Trump’s announcement.
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