On Jan. 22 in a 5 to 4 decision the Supreme Court lifted the protections for transgender individuals serving in the armed forces.
According to the New York Times, the decision in essence dictates that “transgender people already serving openly may continue to serve once the injunctions are lifted. But those who seek to transition or serve openly after that happens risk discharge.”
President Donald J. Trump shared on Twitter reasons why transgender people shouldn’t be able to serve in the military, including: “tremendous medical costs” and “the disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
Before we look at these, we need to take a look at a couple numbers, and some of the facts regarding the original decision.
According to a 2014 study by the Williams Institute, only 6,000 active military members are transgender.
When looking at the self-reported numbers by the Department of Defense in 2014, there are over 1,350,000 members on active duty, meaning that less than half a percent of all members were transgender.
The Obama-era decision let members already in the military begin the transition process and stay in the military, but prevented individuals who identified as transgender from joining.
This is a very important distinction as it follows one of the cornerstones of the military view of retaining individuals who are already trained and qualified.
If a person attempts to join the military with a medical history of cancer, depression, or an allergy to certain foods, it isn’t unreasonable that they will be denied entry into the military. However, if these people develop these medical problems while they are in the military then they are treated with the utmost respect, allowed to stay on duty, and have the entire medical process provided by the military.
Transitioning was just viewed as another medical issue that affected a few troops that the military had already invested years of training and millions of dollars in.
Further, the idea that transgender people would cause serious disruptions, ideally to deployments in the Middle East, is laughable due to the many already existing medical conditions that would prevent you from deploying to even a safe area.
Just a few examples would be a condition preventing someone from wearing armor, pregnancy, or still having wisdom teeth.
While there might be some legitimate, worrisome reasons to prevent military members from transitioning in service, they aren’t being used to justify policy change, and it leaves several thousand troops in limbo about what they can do, and what they can expect if they decide to take the Oath of Reenlistment, and continue to serve their country.
This is just another example of a politician who never served to use the military as their own political pawn.