As the transgender military ban moves forward, America moves behind

In this July 26, 2017 file photo, people with the Human Rights Campaign hold up "equality flags" during an event on Capitol Hill in Washington, in support of transgender members of the military. Officials say the Pentagon expects soon to ban transgender individuals from joining the military and to consider circumstances in which some currently serving transgendertroops could remain in uniform. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

In this July 26, 2017 file photo, people with the Human Rights Campaign hold up "equality flags" during an event on Capitol Hill in Washington, in support of transgender members of the military. Officials say the Pentagon expects soon to ban transgender individuals from joining the military and to consider circumstances in which some currently serving transgendertroops could remain in uniform. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Four years ago today on Aug. 28, 2013, President Barack Obama gave a speech proclaiming America’s need to follow in the steps of Martin Luther King Jr. in order to defeat racism and fight for minority rights. Obama’s eight year presidency arguably created the most social change America has yet witnessed.

Today, as frequently called “Trump’s America,” the country has seen inflated sparks of bigotry, discrimination and a general move backwards in history. President Donald Trump’s policy changes, from undoing the EPA’s efforts to combat global warming to placing travel bans on specific Muslim-majority countries have lead to a polarized and degraded America.

President Trump’s policies continue as the Pentagon expects to receive a memo from the White House in coming days that enforces the removal of transgender individuals from the military, according to the New York Times

Once the memo is approved, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis would have the ability to unconstitutionally force transgender personnel out of the military. The order will also prohibit the Pentagon from recruiting transgender people and cut all costs for sexual reassignment surgery.

An outrage sparked after President Trump released a series of tweets informing the public of the executive order and his reason behind it. President Trump claimed that transgender troops require “tremendous medical costs” and cause “disruption.”  

According to a RAND Corporation study, the order is most likely to have minimal effects on the number of military personnel and health care costs. The study found a rough estimate of about 1,320 - 6,630 transgender military personnel, but it is difficult to gage the exact number due to a lack of empirical data. However, out of the total number of transgender military personnel, only between 29 and 129 will seek sexual reassignment surgery while they are active members.  

The number of transgender military personnel who seek surgery while active compared to the total number of 1.3 million members currently active is significantly small. A number so small that it’s likely to cause no disruption calls into question the real motive behind the order.

Although several military personnel, including Sen. John McCain, spoke out against the order, it still leaves everyday citizens wary of the president’s motives and his efficiency at policymaking.

“Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving,” Sen. John McCain said in a statement after the release of Trump’s tweets. “There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity.”

If evidence shows that transgender individuals pose limited to no disruption and cost a significantly small proportion of the military’s total funding, then the order is unconstitutional in the sense of its purpose. It’s strongly suggested that the purpose of the order is rooted in hatred and discrimination towards a specific group of people in America. It’s a credible presumption to state that financial and military readiness, as President Trump has stated, exists only as a cover-up for the true motives of the order.  

The individuals who make up a country’s military are a reflection of their society. Any citizen willing and capable of serving their country should be granted the privilege to do so. Not allowing a certain group admittance into the military speaks wavelengths on America’s stance on transgender issues. The order will not make America any safer, but instead make the country more dangerous for transgender citizens. There is question behind whether or not the military is keeping American citizens safe if a ban is imposed that actively discriminates against its own citizens.


Emma DeGrandi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emma.degrandi@uconn.edu.