Trump’s policy making by tweets is malicious and cruel politics, a weak attempt to divert attention from Russia, healthcare (we are winning!*), and his West Wing foul mouthed cronies. He is playing to his base (outraged by his attacks on his Attorney General) with a wedge issue at the expense of the service, livelihood, and identity of transgender people.
The tweet came without a plan to implement it and military leaders across all four service branches were blindsided by the announcement. The Pentagon has asked the White House for a written directive spelling out its intentions and directions.
According to a recent Rand Corporation study there are between two and eleven thousand transgender active-duty service members currently serving in the armed forces,. The head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford, told service members that there will be "no modifications to the current policy until the Secretary of Defense receives direction from the President. In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect.”
The President’s allegations of the excessive cost and disruption due to the current policy of inclusion are spurious. The Rand study estimated an increase in military health-care costs of between $2.4 million and $8.4 million a year, a 0.04% to 0.13% increase in over-all Pentagon medical spending. Annual medical costs for active-duty trans service members are far lower than the $84 million the military spends annually on Viagra.
Experience over decades has shown that the military, and society as a whole, have benefited from policies of inclusion of people of color, women and LGBT individuals. The big story of the recent integration of gay troops is that it has been accomplished without disruption.
Call To Action
Join the Attorneys General of 18 states the District of Columbia and call your Senators AND Representatives and insist on legislation that prohibits discrimination against transgender service members. Tell your Republican and Democratic representatives that Trump’s assertions about reduced unit cohesion, military effectiveness and excessive medical expenses related to transgender soldiers are FALSE.
The Hard Ask: Don’t hang up until you’ve asked and gotten an answer to this question: Will you pass legislation that explicitly protects sexual orientation and gender identity for service members in the military?
*We would be remiss if we didn’t take a moment to celebrate “the resistance” to the efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The many, many calls and letters and other efforts made a difference. Despite the efforts of Trump, Ryan and McConnell, millions of our fellow citizens still have health insurance coverage. Together, we made a difference!
Limerick of the week
How can POTUS, in ignorance, render
Such insult to all those transgender?
How dare he condemn
Loyal women and men?
He’s Commander in Chief offender!