NYC258 cover image See all stories from issue #258, September/October 2017

Trump’s Spiteful Transgender Ban
Just another attempt to promote hatred
Atl Castro

On July 26, President Donald Trump announced via Twitter, “…please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”

This is another step by President Trump to reduce the rights of specific groups of people and oppose an advancement that former President Barack Obama made to reduce discrimination and hatred. Sometimes it seems like Trump reverses policies just because Obama created them, but his actions hurt the most vulnerable people.

youthcomm logo

His statement would reverse the decision under the Obama Administration that allows transgender men and women to serve openly in the military. According to a study conducted by RAND Corporation, there are an estimated 2,450 active members of the military that are transgender and 1,510 in reserves. Other LGBTQ advocacy groups released much higher estimates – they say there are 10,000 to 15,000 active duty transgender members.

True Facts

President Trump says his reasoning for instituting this new ban is that “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs that transgender in the military would entail.”

Though it is innaccurate, this statement probably makes sense to a lot of Trump’s base. Many of Trump’s supporters don’t support LGBTQ rights. It makes sense that these same people wouldn’t want their taxpayer money to go toward their care while they are in the military, for things such as gender reassignment surgery or hormone therapy.

But, in reality, the additional health care costs to accommodate transgender service members amounts to less than 10% of what the military spends on Viagra and other sex drugs, according to an analysis by the Rand Corporation and The Military Times. That is hardly the “burden” that our president calls it.

On the day of Trump’s announcement, there was a peaceful, organized protest held in Times Square, next to the U.S. Armed Forces Recruiting Station. Hundreds of protesters arrived to show their solidarity in denouncing President Trump’s recent decision. Protesters held signs reading “Resist” and “Transgender Rights Are Human Rights,” while also chanting sayings like, “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go.”

image by YC-Art Dept

News reporters from The New York Times and AM New York interviewed the protesters while photographers took photos of the people of all ages chanting and holding up signs.

Youth Voice Matters

I spoke to one of the many vivacious souls that came to show support for the transgender community, a 14-year-old named Maverick who attends the NYC iSchool. “It’s important that young people’s opinions are acknowledged; especially in this society where our voices might not be heard because of Trump,” she told me. I share her concern that his sweep of executive actions, including ending a program for young immigrants called DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and advancing the Dakota Access Pipeline (read more about the Dakota Access Pipeline on pp. 21-22) are drowning out the voices of many Americans.

Although LGBTQ people and allies are upset about his tweet, there is hope that nothing will come of it. Trump has made harmful threats in the past without actually going through with them.

For example, during the political debates, he said when he was elected, he would hire a special prosecutor and send his opponent, Hillary Clinton, to jail. His propensity not to follow through may cause this proposed ban to disappear.

Also, he can’t just declare something and it happens. He is not a dictator. “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 guidance,” said Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who also happens to be one of the most powerful and highest-ranking military officers in the U.S.

Trump often makes promises just to rile up his base and go against the opposing party. Some of his outrageous statements are his way of trying to convince us that he can do anything because he has presidential power. This is not true. His power as president is limited, and his executive actions and statements like this one seem to be attempts to prove that he’s accomplishing something. To me, it feels like he is behaving like a bully and is trying to distract voters from seeing how little he has accomplished.

Update as of 11/2/17: A federal judge blocked the policy barring military service by transgender troops, ruling that the military’s current policy should remain in place.

horizontal rule