What will be the consequences of the newly-announced transgender ban in the U.S. military by President Donald Trump?
In the short term, a giant avalanche of criticism from Trump’s political opponents and fury from the giant U.S. LGBT community, the size of which varies from 10 million to 30 million Americans, according to several estimations.
Trump is no stranger to attracting criticism and fury from LGBT Americans, as the Washington Post reports that since taking office, his administration has repealed several protections for the LGBT community, including those of transgender schoolchildren, according to the Washington Post. What also drew ire from LGBT Americans was the fact that the White House did not recognize LGBT Pride Month last month, something that was done by President Bill Clinton in 1999 and 2000, as well as President Barack Obama during his eight years in office.
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Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military “in any capacity” presents several consequences. The U.S. President, who has long been branded as anti-gay, made the surprising announcement via Twitter on Wednesday morning.
Trump explained the transgender ban by saying that the United States military cannot deal with the burden of higher medical costs and “disruption” that transgender service people would require.
Transgender Ban Consequences: Higher Approval Rating at the Cost of Transgender People’s Military Careers
Despite the criticism and fury from political opponents and LGBT Americans, the latest anti-transgender move by the Trump administration will most likely attract favorable shifts in the approval rating for the U.S. President, as many of his conservative voters will likely support the seemingly outrageous move.
Amid the growing distrust from American people in the wake of the ongoing investigation into Trump campaign’s links to Russia as well as the latest healthcare drama, many interpret Trump’s transgender ban as his way to divert the attention from negative reports and rally conservative forces to his side.
One of the most prominent – and obvious – consequences of the transgender ban will, of course, be the end of careers of an estimated up to 7,000 active military personnel, who openly identify themselves as transgender. A 2016 RAND study, which was commissioned by the Defense Department last year, estimated that there was between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender people in the U.S. military.
The transgender ban has already been branded as “a tragic betrayal of all LGBT Americans” by influential gay rights advocate Richard Socarides, and the move to prohibit American transgender to serve in the military will most likely be a prominent subject in the media for months to come. Sacrificing the careers of transgender people serving in the U.S. military could improve Trump’s opinion poll numbers and will most likely be viewed favorably by his political base.
Consequences: Protests, Impeachment, Threats to Military?
The possibility of LGBT Americans currently serving in the military protesting the transgender ban should not be ruled out either.
While it’s unlikely that the move to ban transgender people from the military will spark nation-wide protests on the streets or bring Trump closer to impeachment – unless Democrats are able to find an impeachable offense in the President’s latest controversial decision – it’s unclear if the transgender ban will affect the U.S. military readiness positively or negatively.
Whether or not transgender people affect the U.S. military readiness negatively has been the subject of debates for years, with many studies suggesting that transgender people serving in the military may “threaten its morale and readiness,” according to a major 2013 study by Allison Ross.
Despite many critics slamming Trump for calling transgender people a “burden” for the military budget, the Military Health System budget would have to find additional up to $8.4 million every year to extend the care to transgender service members, according to the 2016 RAND Study.
With the 2016 study estimating that between 29 and 129 service members in active duty would seek any type of gender transition-related care every year, the study conducted by Ross compared “the average cost of a male-to-female sex-reassignment surgery” ($20,000 for a single surgery, according to the author) with the cost of surgery for Achilles tendonitis or lower-extremity fractures, which are common among the military population.
Transgender Ban Will Spark a Floor of Lawsuits
That means the transgender ban could – in theory – save an estimated $8.4 million in the Military Health System budget every year, though it is impossible to compare if the costs for transgender service members possibly could justify the effectiveness of their service in the military.
While it’s fair to say that the transgender ban will have no immediate effect on the military readiness, the controversial move by the President could give birth to a flood of lawsuits from transgender personnel. Legal experts say that transgender service members who revealed their gender identities after President Obama ended the ban could file a lawsuit if they are forced to leave the military.
Despite the apparent backlash from Trump’s political opponents, the transgender ban could be viewed favorably by most American people, and especially Trump’s voter base. A report by Rasmussen Reports, published last month, found that 31% Americans think transgender people serving in the military is bad for the military, while only 23% think otherwise.
However, it’s fair to predict that the Trump administration will be viewed as anti-transgender and anti-gay more often from now on, as the U.S. President has done quite a few controversial things regarding transgender people and the entire LGBT community as a whole.
Trump’s transgender ban stands in stark contrast to his last year’s election campaign promise, when he declared his support for LGBT rights and said, “I will fight for you!” Transgender and gay rights groups have for years threatened legal action against the military if it decides to ban transgender personnel.
Despite the apparently imminent whirlwind of lawsuits against in the wake of the transgender ban, there are more studies that suggest that transgender people serving in the U.S. military could negatively affect its effectiveness, readiness and combat preparedness. According to the latest findings by A Journal of Technology & Society, “adults who have undergone sex-reassignment surgery continue to have a higher risk of experiencing poor mental health outcomes.”
Thus, authors of the study, psychiatrists Lawrence Mayer and Paul McHugh, suggest that the military could be compromised because of transgender people. According to the RAND Study, there are an estimated 2,450 transgender personnel of the 1.2 million active-duty members in the U.S. military.