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Transgender People Banned from the Military

Leah Dunbar, '18, Editor

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While looking back at the summer would be easiest through the lens of our beach camera, only acknowledging our vacations and family outings, we truly must also recognize the summer’s many political events—good and bad.

Looking back to July 26th, when president Donald Trump announced that transgender individuals will no longer be allowed to enlist in the military, we see an issue that is overflowing with research studies and analysis.

According to Harper Jean Tobin from Time Magazine, right now, 0.4% of the United States population serves in uniform. Of that small percent, 15,000 people are transgender. These numbers alone speak for themselves, as it is simply not a smart decision to take out thousands of serving soldiers.

One of President Trump’s reasons for this change is that transgender people serving in the military increase healthcare costs. Before getting to statistics, we must first look at all of the money that has already been spent on these soldiers. Tobin writes that already, “the armed services have invested tremendously in” these soldiers from the amount of time spent training them. For some solid numbers, we can take a look at a 2016 study conducted by the Rand Corporation. This study “projected that transition-related healthcare spending would make up only 0.005–0.017% of the Defense Department’s health care budget.” Out of a 6 billion dollar budget, it is irrational to propose that 0.005% of the money devoted to the military is not available for the medical care of transgender individuals.

This derails Trump’s recent statement that “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender people in the military would entail.” In addition, this is “medical care prescribed by military doctors and supported by every major medical association.” Seeing as no other troops are denied health care, it is appalling that the president looks to single out transgender troops for their medical needs.

The previously mentioned Rand study estimated that each year, between 29 and 129 active-duty “transgender individuals would seek transition-related treatment that could disrupt their ability to deploy each year.” Out of 15,000 transgender individuals in the military, to claim these 29-129 people would create that much of a change in preparedness is ludicrous. On the other hand, out of the rest of the military population, the Rand study notes that in 2015, “approximately 50,000 active-duty military personnel, or 14 percent, in the army alone were ineligible to deploy for various legal, medical or administrative reasons.” This completely debunks President Trump’s claim that he is removing transgender people due to their inability to deploy at all times. In fact, if we were to get extra technical we could even cite Trump’s dodging of the draft for the war in Vietnam for so called “heel problems.”

Looking past the United States, there are currently 18 countries that allow transgender individuals to serve openly in the military. The Rand Corporation looked at four of these countries, Australia, Canada, Israel and the United Kingdom, and “found that none of these countries’ militaries ‘reported a negative impact on the operational effectiveness, operational readiness or cohesion of the force.’”

While Trump did officially ban transgender individuals from enlisting in the army, it is still up to Defense Secretary James Mattis to take existing transgender individuals out from their stations. NPR reports that “the big issue for Mattis is service. If you’re in the military, people who know him say, he’ll give a lot of leeway for keeping transgender people in — unless there’s some huge medical issue that prevents deployability.” This provides some relief as it infers that it is unlikely many serving transgender individuals will be removed immediately.

But let’s be honest, Trump dodged the draft five times and he is trying to keep willing, able-bodied people from defending the nation?

The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.
Transgender People Banned from the Military