Military Transgender Persons.
Lawsuits filed. Gen. Mattis responds.
Extra Cost of Transgender Members.
Image by Maiconfz. Downloaded from Pixabay. CC0 Creative Commons
2017-AUG-25: President Trump signed a memo that restored his policy to discriminate against transgender service members.
The President's memo states that:
No new transgender individuals will be allowed to join the Military unless and until the Secretary of Defense recommends otherwise.
No new transgender individuals will be allowed to join the Coast Guard unless and until the Secretary of Homeland Security recommends otherwise.
For transgender service members who are currently serving, the departments of Defense and Homeland Security will determine what to do with them based on how their continued service affects military effectiveness, lethality, resources, and unit cohesion.
Effective 2018-MAR-23, sex confirmation surgery (formerly called sex change surgery) will be stopped, except for those service members currently being treated. 1
Implementation plans are to be submitted by the Military to the President on or before 2018-MAR-25.
We believe that this is the first time in the history of the U.S. Armed Forces that discrimination against a group of potential service members was phased out and later restored. In the past, after the military terminated discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and sexual orientation, the changes were always permanent.
Sarah McBride, National Press Secretary of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said:
"It is an unconscionable and unconstitutional breach of trust for the president to single out brave transgender service members and able recruits for discrimination." 2
2017-AUG-28: Two lawsuits were quickly filed to challenge President Trump's restoration of the ban:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland filed a lawsuit "Stone v. Trump" in federal court on behalf of six transgender service members. It is based on the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which guarantees citizens due process and equal protection. This Amendment has been the basis of many past, successful, and major legal human rights challenges that have affecting minorities, including the legalizing of interracial marriages, the decriminalizing of consensual, private, same-gender, sexual activity, and the legalizing of marriage by same-sex couples. 3
The ACLU claims that President Trump's transgender:
"... ban is based on uninformed speculation, myths and stereotypes, moral disapproval, and a bare desire to harm this already vulnerable group."
Josh Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, said:
"Each and every claim made by President Trump to justify this ban can be easily debunked by the conclusions drawn from the Department of Defense’s own review process. Allowing men and women who are transgender to serve openly and providing them with necessary health care does nothing to harm military readiness or unit cohesion. Men and women who are transgender with the courage and capacity to serve deserve more from their commander-in-chief. 4
Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington state on behalf of three persons and two other groups. They are:
"... two individuals who seek to join the military; one current service member who seeks appointment as an officer; the Human Rights Campaign; ... and [the] Gender Justice League."
Peter Renn, Lambda Legal Senior Attorney said:
"This ban not only wrongfully prevents patriotic, talented Americans from serving, it also compromises the safety and security of our country. Thousands of current service members are transgender, and many have been serving openly, courageously and successfully in the U.S. military for more than a year -- not to mention the previous decades when many were forced to serve in silence. Once again attacking a vulnerable population based on bias, political opportunism and demonstrably untrue ‘alternative facts,’ President Trump is denying brave men and women the opportunity to serve our country without any legitimate justification whatsoever."
Peter Perkowski, Legal Director for OutServe-SLDN, said:
"We promised that we would sue if the president took this action. The law is on our side; justice is on our side. And we are on the side of every single transgender service member and those who want to serve. The nation’s courts exist to protect the people whom tyrants would otherwise abuse. Trump can’t tweet his way out of this one."
Plaintiff Staff Sergeant Catherine Schmid said:
"I love serving my country, which I’ve been doing for more than 12 years. Since the ban on open service by transgender men and women was lifted, I’ve been able to live and serve as my authentic self, which has allowed me to form stronger bonds with my fellow service members." 5
In addition to the concerns listed above, the thousands of transgender service members who are currently serving will have to remain underground, in fear of being detected as trangender and expelled from the military. Having service members working in an atmosphere of fear and secrecy will lessen their effectiveness.
2017-AUG-29: General Mattis responds to the President Trump's restoration of the ban:
General Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, announced that he was setting up a panel of experts to study the ban and recommend how to implement it. He will then advise the President. He said:
"Once the panel reports its recommendations and following my consultation with the secretary of Homeland Security, I will provide my advice to the president concerning implementation of his policy direction. In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place." 6
His response appears ambiguous with regard to the scheduling of future gender confirmation surgery for transgender members of the Armed Forces and Coast Guard. Carlos Garcia, writing for The Blaze stated that:
"Secretary of Defense James Mattis issued a statement of implementation of President Trump's transgender ban that many believed actually undermined his order." 7
Estimates of the additional cost of allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military:
The total U.S. Department of Defense budget is expected to be $640 billion dollars. 8
At the top of this page, the text on a sign held by a pro-equality protestor said that the cost to the military is "0.001% of the total military spending."
The RAND analysis commissioned by the Department of Defense estimated between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually for the cost of gender confirmation surgery. That would be between .0003% and 0.001% of the total military spending.
TheNew England Journal of Medicine in 2015 estimated the cost at $4.2 million to $5.6 million. That would be between 0.0007 to 0.0009% of the total military spending.
These values seem to be more or less consistent. One can probably assume that the pro-equality protestor is correct: the medical cost of transgender surgery would be less than 0.001% of the total U.S. military spending.
Peter Sprigg writes for the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian advocacy group that has been listed as an active anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. 8,9 During 2017, the Council computed a very different value, which includedthe cost of potential lost time of deployable service. They estimate values almost 100 times greater: U.S. $190 to 370 million per year (.03 to .06%). 10 That works out to $0.59 to $1.14 per year per person in the country, or $0.001% to $0.002% of the Gross Domestic Product per person. Not a large amount.
Other articles in this series on transgender persons in the U.S. military:
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. Negative reactions.
Part 3: 2016: More negative reactions to the ending of discrimination. Positive reactions.
Part 4:2016: President Trump's ban on transgender persons in the military.
Part 5:2017: Trump restores ban of transgender military service members via tweets. Federal court blocks the move.
Part 6:2017-JUL/AUG: Impact on Trump's Ban of Transgender Military Service members.
Public opinion polls.
Part 8: 2017-OCT to DEC: Two
Court injuctions against Pres. Trump's Transgender ban.
Enlistees able to apply, in theory.
Part 10:2018-APR to 2019-JAN: Medical groups criticize the ban.
Father's Day. Billboard battle
Part 11: Anti-Trump Light Show. Trump loses at District Court
level, asks to bypass Courts of Appeal and go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. High Court activates ban.
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." 11
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Gordon Lubold, "White House Sets Rules for Military Transgender Ban," The Wall Street Journal, 2017-AUG-23, at: https://www.wsj.com/
Merrit Kennedy, "2 Lawsuits Challenge Trump's Ban On Transgender Military Service," NPR, 2017-AUG-28, at: http://www.npr.org/