2017-JUL: Trump Bans
Military Transgender Members
"TG" is an acronym that is occasionally used to refer to transgender individuals. That is its meaning here. It also has two additional meanings: "Thank God" and "That's Good."
2017-JUL-26: President Trump repudiated his campaign promises by restoring the military ban on transgender service members via a triple tweet on Twitter:
Since World War II, the U.S. military has gradually remover restrictions on service members on the basis of their race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity. In many cases, they have led the rest of the country. Militaries in many other developed countries have done the same. To our knowledge, no country has ever reversed itself by reimposing discrimination against their service members, until President Trump's surprise tweets.
He issued three linked tweets announcing what is apparently to be a sudden and complete ban on all transgender members in the military. That is, existing trans service members would be forcibly discharged, and no new transgender applicants would be allowed to join. Republican, Democrat, and Independent members of Congress appear to have been surprised at the decision.
The three tweets starting at 8:55 AM on JUL-26. When assembled together they said:
"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, pleased be advised that the United States will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. 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. Thank you." 1,2
On a positive note, at least he said "Thank you."
On JUL-26, NBC News contrasted President Trump's triple tweet with what he said during the Presidential campaign about transgender individuals :
2017-JUL-26: Various reactions to President Trump's tweets:
Some hours later, Ray Allen, a two-time NBA champion, criticized the tweets. He said:
"I'm sorry but this is insane!!!! Why does it matter how people identify themselves??? Anyone who wants to serve this country should have the right to serve this country. What happened to the most powerful person in this country bringing everyone together?? What a shame!! We all have the right to love who we want to love, live where we want to live! And we should all be able to participate in all things American regardless of what we look like. We must resist these idiotic ideas being spread about from this White House. I care about the inclusion of all people!! We do not live on this earth alone, let alone in America. If you don't like my opinion and you wanna spew hate just unfollow me." 3
At a press conference later on the day, Trump's tweets dominated the questions asked by media representatives. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders who was fielding the questions appeared frustrated. She threatened to terminate the conference unless reporters switched to a different topic. She said that Trump's announcement was:
"... a military decision ... [and was] not meant to be anything more than that."
She also said that the Trump administration believes that the previous year's decision to permit transgender service members to serve:
"... erodes military readiness and unit cohesion." 4
Some Republican members of Congress reacted quickly to President Trump's tweets:
- Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-FL), who has a transgender son, tweeted:
"No American, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be prohibited from honor + privilege of serving our nation. ...."
- Sen. John McCain, (R-AZ), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Trump's tweets were:
"... yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter. ... The Department of Defense has already decided to allow currently-serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many are serving honorably today. Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military -- regardless of their gender identity. ..."
- Sen. Joni Ernst, (R-IA), served in the Iowa Army National Guard for 23 years, with deployments to Kuwait and Iraq. Her spokesperson, Brook Hougesen, said:
"As a veteran, Senator Ernst served alongside fellow service members from all different backgrounds and parts of the county. While she believes taxpayers shouldn't cover the costs associated with a gender reassignment surgery, Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity."
- Sen. Orrin Hatch, (R-UT), said he did:
"... not think we should be discriminating against anyone. ... Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them. I look forward to getting much more information and clarity from our military leaders about the [impact of the] policy the President tweeted today.""
- Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-SC), said that he wanted "a hearing about" the issue, "not a tweet."
- Representative Steve King (R-IA) was supportive of the President. He said:
"We don't need to be experimenting with the military. Plus there's no reason to take on that kind of financial burden." 5
Several commentators have noted that the military has made a massive investment in the training of all of its service members. To lose the expertise of transgender members by forcibly discharging them and having to train replacements would cost an enormous sum.
There appeared to be no immediately available information about exactly how and when President Trump's ban will be implemented. It is important to realize that policy changes cannot be made by issuing tweets. Change requires either a new law passed by Congress and signed by the president, or a Presidential Executive Order. Either would require the Military to develop new policies and procedures to hunt down transgender members, and discharge them. They would also need to develop new procedures to detect transgender applicants, and reject them.
It is unclear whether President Trump expects trans service members to be given an honorable or dishonorable discharge. Either type would be a massive personal shock and cause a major dislocation in the lives of service members being discharged. A dishonorable discharge would wipe out their future access to benefits including mental health and educational help. Even an honorable discharge could be problematic, depending upon the reason given in the discharge papers. If they indicate that the person was expelled because they are transgender, they may find that future employment outside the military would be difficult to obtain.
Kristofer Goldsmith is founder and president of High Ground Veterans Advocacy, a civic group for military veterans. Referring to a transgender separation code that could reveal the veterans’ gender identities to future employers, he said:
"I think that’s very possible. Until we receive further guidance from the White House, I’m just going to assume the worst. ..."
"Without any court hearings, without any opportunity to defend themselves, they’re administratively separated. Their entire life could be turned upside down. The lack of humanity of those tweets makes it seem like the president would not protect people from that type of inquisition. That is extremely disturbing." 6
Impact of Trump's ban beyond the military:
Sometimes, a cultural/legal change like the legalization of gay marriages or allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military can make a major impact on the LGBT community throughout the entire country. For example, the suicide rate among homosexual youth had been on the order of four to six times that of heterosexual youth. 7 After the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages in mid-2015, many in the LGBT community appeared to feel more accepted by other Americans. There was a noticable drop in their suicide rate, which remains lower today.
Many transgender persons experience very serious distress over their gender identity. An article in the American Journal of Public Health found that 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide as a child or youth before the age of 25. 8
Thomas Page McBee, writing for QZ.com, predicted that the suicide rate among transgender individuals will rise both in and out of the military because of the presidential tweets:
"This new-old ban won’t rid the military of trans soldiers -- history confirms that. As in the wider world, trans people will continue to exist, and we will go to restrooms, locker rooms, and schools. We will even risk our lives for the country that tries to legislate us out of existence. The policy will, however, add to a climate that encourages us to erase ourselves." 9
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Times Square in New York City to protested against the ban. One was a transgender woman, Tanya Walker, who said:
"I served my country. I fought for the rich and the poor. And I cannot believe what our president has just said. I am appalled. ... I did not obstruct the government by serving in the military. I didn’t disrupt the military — don’t believe the hype." 10
Public advocate Leticia James said:
"We need to applaud all of those transgendered and [other] members of the LGBT community who have served both me and you and all of us.
Referring to President Trump, she said:
"Democracy demands that all of us raise our voices to this man, who not once but five times was a draft dodger."
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said:
"Banning transgender Americans from military service is despicable, discriminatory and downright anti-American. This City Council will continue to fight to defend the rights of all New Yorkers." 11
Julie Hirshfeld Davis and Helene Cooper, writing for the New York Times, said:
"Civil rights and transgender advocacy groups denounced the policy, with some vowing to challenge it in court. Pentagon officials expressed dismay that the president’s tweets could open them to lawsuits.
The ban would reverse the gradual transformation of the military under President Barack Obama, whose administration announced last year that transgender people could serve openly in the military. Mr. Obama’s defense secretary, Ashton B. Carter, also opened all combat roles to women and appointed the first openly gay Army secretary." 12
Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) is the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. He noted that, ironically, Trump's tweets ocurred on the anniversary of President Harry Truman's order to racially desegregate the military. He said:
"President Trump is choosing to retreat in the march toward equality." 12
2017-JUL-27-28: Military Joint Chiefs of Staff were allegedly blindsided by Trump's unexpected ban:
The first eight words of President Trump's triple tweet seem to be some form of "alternate truth." The first tweet said:
"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, ..."
Apparently, no such consultation actually took place. At least, none of the most senior officers were aware of it.
On JUL-27, in an address to the National Press Club, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said that he had learned about President Trump's tweet only through the media. Further, he had not received any:
"... directives on implementation" yet. ... We will work through the implementation guidance when we get it. ..."
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), war hero and the chair of the Senate's Armed Services Committee, said:
"I think they realize they made a mistake. I think generally speaking, it's accepted you consult the Secretary of Defense before you make a decision that has to do with defending the nation." 13
The Joint Chiefs, including chairperson General Joseph Dunford, were unaware of President Trump's ban in advance. Three US defense officials confirmed this with CNN.
General Dunford has informed the rest of the military that there will be:
"... no modifications to the current policy until the President's direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidelines.
In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect. As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions." 14
Previous following articles in this series on transgender persons in the U.S. military:
The above article is Part 5 in a series of articles on transgender persons in the U.S. military. Previous essays are:
- Part 1: 2011/2012: Overview. Support. Current military policies. Care for veterans.
- Part 2: 2016: Previous ends to discrimination by the military. Pentagon announces
an end to discrimination against transgender members.
- Part 3: 2016: More negative reactions to the ending of discrimination.
- Part 4: 2016: President Trump's ban on transgender persons in the military
- Part 6: 2017: Impact of Trump's ban of military transgender members
A helpful list:
- The Toronto Star has a list of false claims made by President Trump. At the end of his first six months in office, the list totals 447 false claims. They average 2.4 per day. At this rate he will accumulate over 3,500 false claims by the end of his first term in office. Daniel Dale, writing for the Star, commented:
"... Trump has proven uniquely willing to lie, exaggerate and mislead. By all expert accounts, he is more frequently inaccurate than any of his predecessors." 15
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Donald Trump, Tweet, 2016-JUL-21, at: https://twitter.com/
- Adam Edelman, "Trump Bans Transgender People Serving in the Military, NBC News, 2017-JUL-26, at: http://www.nbcnews.com/
- Alec Nathan, "Ray Allen Criticizes Donald Trump's Ban on Transgender Soldiers in Military," Bleacher Report, 2017-JUL-26, at: http://bleacherreport.com/
- Madeline Conway, "Sanders threatens to halt briefing as transgender troop ban dominates," Politico, 2017-JUL-26, at: http://www.politico.com/
- Jason Noble, "Ernst breaks with Trump on transgender military ban," USA Today, 2017-JUL-26, at: https://www.usatoday.com/
- Bryan Bender & Jacqueline Klimas, "Pentagon takes no steps to enforce Trump's transgender ban," Politico, 2017-JUL-27, at: http://www.politico.com/
- "Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2016 .
- IMPACT. (2010). "Mental health disorders, psychological distress, and suicidality in a diverse sample of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths," American Journal of Public Health 2010. 100(12), Pages 2,426 to 2,432.
- The Real Donald Trump, Tweet, 2016-JUL-21, at: https://twitter.com/
- Stephanie Pagones and Ruthie Weissmann, "Hundreds protest Trump’s ban on transgender troops," New York Post, 2017-JUL-26, at: http://nypost.com/
- Julie Hirshfeld Davis & Helene Cooper, "Trump Says Transgender People Will Not Be Allowed in the Military," New York Times, 2017-JUL-26, at: https://www.nytimes.com/
- Jeremy Herb & Dylan Stafford, "McCain on Trump's transgender military ban: 'I think they realize they made a mistake' ," CNN politics, 2017-JUL-27, at: http://www.cnn.com/
- Barbara Starr, Zachary Cohen and Jim Sciutto, "US Joint Chiefs blindsided by Trump's transgender ban," CNN Politics, 2017-JUL-27, at: http://www.cnn.com/
- Daniel Dale, "Donald Trump just had his most dishonest week as president: 7 days, 34 false claims," Toronto Star, 2017-JUL-27, at: https://www.thestar.com/
How you may have arrived here:
Copyright © 2017 by Ontario Consultants on
Original posting: 2017-JUL-27
Latest update : 2017-AUG-24
Author: B.A. Robinson