by Countable | 7.26.17
Update: This afternoon Senator John McCain, in his role as the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued a written statement in response to this morning's tweets:
"The President’s tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter."
“The statement was unclear. The Department of Defense has already decided to allow currently-serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many are serving honorably today. Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. 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. We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so—and should be treated as the patriots they are."
“The Department of Defense is currently conducting a study on the medical obligations it would incur, the impact on military readiness, and related questions associated with the accession of transgender individuals who are not currently serving in uniform and wish to join the military. I do not believe that any new policy decision is appropriate until that study is complete and thoroughly reviewed by the Secretary of Defense, our military leadership, and the Congress."
“The Senate Armed Services Committee will continue to follow closely and conduct oversight on the issue of transgender individuals serving in the military.”
This story was originally published on the Wednesday morning, July 26, 2017, and updated in the afternoon.
In a series of three tweets this morning President Trump announced that no transgender individuals would be allowed to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.
The three tweets were posted starting at 5:55 AM:
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
The second at 6:04 AM:
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
And the third and final at 6:08 AM:
....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
Responses were swift, and likely to continue throughout the day. Twitter account, Vets Against Trump, posted this:
Charles Blow, columnist for the New York Times, tweeted the following:
The queer response to today's anti-LGBT bs from Trump (paraphrasing Ms Sophia from "The Color Purple")... pic.twitter.com/PeyTngcaXx— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) July 26, 2017
Though not all tweets were in opposition to the president’s announcement:
I do agree that men and women die if there are distractions. Again, the U.S. Military should not pay for transgender Americans' surgery.— #ThePersistence (@ScottPresler) July 26, 2017
In late February, Military Times published an article outlining the potential effects on approximately 7,000 current members of the U.S. military who are transgender, as well as transgender children of service members living on military bases. Under President Obama there was an intent to gradually change policy to integrate transgender individuals openly into the military. Since July of 2016 policies were supposed to be changed to allow transgender service members to get the VA care they need:
"the policy, approved in July, allow[s] transgender military personnel to serve openly and seek related medical care...Associated rules affect everything from military recruitment to grooming standards and the type of uniforms personnel wear.”
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is on record questioning the policy moves of the previous administration in his pursuit of developing the military into a "deadly war-fighting force":
"We have to be very careful that we do not undercut battlefield effectiveness with shortsighted social programs."
He halted the administration’s plan in late June 2016 for six months in order to assess, according to The Atlantic, whether or not the changes would affect the "readiness and lethality" of the force.
Regardless of the President’s stance a 2016 study, commissioned from the Rand Corporation by the Pentagon, concluded that the inclusion of transgender individuals would have a "negligible cost," as reported by the Wall Street Journal:
"[the] effects of allowing transgender individuals to serve openly, released in May 2016, found that the policy shift would have little to no impact and negligible costs on military cohesion or readiness...few of those service members would require treatment or surgery and concluded that the cost of implementing the policy would be between $2.4 million and $8.4 million a year. Total military health-care expenditures were $6.27 billion in 2014.”
Based on Wednesday morning’s presidential Twitter announcement, the White House has completed its own assessment.
Do you think this is a good move by the president and military leaders? Should transgender Americans be allowed to serve openly in the military? Will this decision enhance the strength of the U.S. military or harm it?
Use the Take Action button to tell your reps what you think!
— Asha Sanaker
(Photo Credit: Air Combat Command / Creative Commons )
Written by Countable