Donald Trump, our volatile and politically incorrect 45th president, has made many unpopular political decisions throughout his tenure, but future political pundits will be pressed to find an adequate explanation for Trump’s recent decision to use his executive prower to prevent transgender Americans from serving in the military.
On Aug. 25, Trump signed a directive that reinstated the ban of transgender military enlistment and prohibited the further use of military spending for gender reassignment healthcare. As per the directives orders, the fate of transgender active duty troops has been left up to the Department of Defense and will continue to hang in the balance for the coming months.
The majority of Americans agree that the right to serve one’s country is inalienable and guaranteed to all Americans deemed fit to serve. According to a recent Reuters/ Ipso poll, 58% of the American people think that the transgender community should also have that same oppertunity. Abram Elmore, a USM freshmen marketing major, echoed the opinions of the inclusive majority.
“All Americans should be able to serve. The United States has always been a land of opportunity, and it should be kept that way. Being transgender should never be a reason to turn somebody down from a career in the service.” Though Elmore has stood by his belief in equality, Donald Trump’s rhetoric has created doubts in the minds of many Americans.
In his initial public announcement of the ban on histwitter account, Donald Trump expressed his stance.
“Our military must be focused on a decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical cost and disruption that transgender in the military would entail” Trump tweeted Jul. 26.
The white house has chosen to inflate a narrative that suggest transgender troops entail astronomical cost that are beyond reason, and this is the misguided talking point that has sank its teeth deepest into the American people. So, how “HUGE” are these medical costs?
At the request of the Defense Department during the Obama presidency in 2015, The Rand corporation researched the implications of transgender enlistment economically and structurally. Their findings contradict Trump’s tweets and directives. “There are an estimated 1,320–6,630 transgender service members in the active component, but not all will seek gender transition– Related Treatment. Active-component health care costs would increase by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually out of approximately a 6.2 Billion dollar budget.” Says the Rand organization. The publication, Military Times, disillusioned many when they released a report that uncovered how much the Defense Department spends on erectile dysfunction drugs.
“According to data from the Defense Health Agency, DoD actually spent $41.6 million on Viagra — and $84.24 million total on erectile dysfunction prescriptions — (2014),” The Military Times report stated. With all of this in mind, it seems transgender troops aren’t as expensive of an investment comparatively to other cost. Unfortunately, the politically distorted facts that a sitting president uses sometimes speaks louder than the truth.
In terms of soldier readiness, the Rand organization, using the highest enlistment estimates, approximated that “less than .1% of the force would seek gender transition-related treatment that would affect their ability to deploy and would account for .0015% of total labor year loss”; Whereas, “14% of the active force were ineligible to deploy in 2015 for various reasons.” Andrew Labarriere, a medically discharged member of the armed forces, also expressed his concerns for troop readiness and the motivations for Soldiers enlisting.
“In the military, you need to be readily available for when you are called on to deploy. If someone wants to change their identity before they join, then I’m all for it. But, if you are joining just to get free medical benefits so you can change your sex, then the military isn’t the wisest choice.” Labarriere said. I agree; A soldier’s decision to put the safety of our nation before his own, is a difficult decision to make and should Donald Trump Wields Executive Power to Ban Transgender Military Service not be taken lightly. However, transgender troops already enlisted that have completed their gender reassignment related care, successfully finished their training and have continued to serve our nation quietly with pride, deserve the chance to continue that service. Since, these individuals pose no medical cost, it would be purely discriminatory to discharge them on the sole basis of their identity. A ban of transgender troops bans every soldier that identifies as transgender, not just those that are in need of medical assistance. Golden Eagles, I challenge you to be compassionate and stand up for the transgender community and their right to bear arms for our nation. I challenge you to make sure everyone gets the chance to soar.