Opinion: The transgender military ban is a disgrace to progress

Shiann Sivell

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Trump administration could reinstate a previously overturned policy barring most transgender people from serving in the military Jan. 21.

The ruling allows but does not yet require, the military to reinstate the ban for the duration of ongoing litigation over the policy.

I read about President Trump’s declaration to ban transgender servicemen from the military during the summer of 2017. My initial thought was ‘I don’t think so. Who would ban someone from serving their country?’

Now it has become reality, and my only thought is still ‘Who would ban someone from serving their country?’

A look into the ban and transgender servicemen

President Trump in March 2018 said that the Pentagon would prohibit many transgender people from serving in the military, a decision that overturned former President Barack Obama’s policy that allowed transgender troops to serve openly and receive medical care during their transition.

His reasoning for this decision was stated in a series of tweets in 2017, saying the military “must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs.”

A 2016 study by the Research And Development Corporation estimated that medical costs related to gender transition among active-duty troops would cost as much as $8.4 million when compared to the military’s overall budget of over $892 billion.

RAND’s study also estimated that there are estimated 6,000 transgender people serve in the military compared to the 1.3 million active duty service members, and as many as 4,100 in reserve units.

Advocates against the decision have since detested against the Supreme Court, calling the reinstatement a “destabilizing whipsaw” for the military’s personnel policy.

“The Supreme Court has allowed military discrimination to be reinstated,” Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a California-based public policy research institute, said in a statement. “It’s critical to understand that the military is not required, and has no need, to reinstate the transgender ban.”

A disgrace to progress

President Trump has said time and time again that he respects the military and those who fight for our country. If this is true then why is he not supporting all of our troops regardless of their sexuality and orientation?

The transgender community has spent decades working to gain acceptance in society’s scrutinizing arms. They are like anyone else, they want to be safe and happy in their own skin, in their own homes, in the world they share with others.

To top it off, transgender people are some of the bravest, most sincere people I have ever grown to know, and being transgender in the military just takes that bravery to an entirely different label. The idea that people who are laying down their lives for a country filled with people who hate them simply because they’re unique astonishes and humbles me to no end.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I hurt for my brethren, military and non-military. This decision will only further push my community away from the safety and happiness that they well deserve.

However, as with every setback and challenge, my community will continue to fight for what is justifiable. We have more allies now than ever, and we are not afraid to march to the front lines of the problem.

Shiann Sivell, The George-Anne Enterprise Reporter, gaspecial@georgiasouthern.edu