Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Trump tweets an absolute ban (EO) on transgender in the military, from his personal "realDonaldTrump" Twitter account

Donald Trump just announced, in a series of three tweets, that transgender people may not servce in the United States military in any capacity.  The tweets cite tremendous military costs (not really true) and disruption (not really true either) and claim he consulted with Mattis.  Trey Yingst of OANN has embedded the tweets at this link

Here is the text: “ After consultation with my Generals and military experts, 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. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming. .victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”  There are reports that sexual reassignment surgery costs the military about $2.4 million per case (Rand) which sounds excessive as an estimate. 

It's noteworthy that Trump tweeted what amounts to an EO by the Commander in Chief from his personal twitter account first (rather than the POTUS account, where the tweets do not [yet] appear). 

The announcement would appear to require the discharge of openly transgender soldiers now. There are between 4000-6000 transgender people on active duty right now (maybe that includes reserves and NG).  Some observers say the discharges cannot happen until the services formally rewrite new policies. 

It does not appear that the announcement applies to cis-gender gay troops, and the repeal from 2011 still stands. But cis-gender gay troops don’t require any accommodation (they must remain fit for duty by ordinary military medical standards).   I am aware of one gay person, in the Army, officer grade, deployed to Afghanistan now.  

It is not clear why Trump did not wait for Mattis’s review to be completed in January 2018. 

Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade has a story here.  The Washington Post now has a detailed story by Abby Phillip and and Thomas Gibbons-Neff. 
Kristin Beck (“Lady Valor”), a transgender woman (female-to-male) had been a Navy Seal and is viewed as capable of public office in the defense area given her detailed knowledge (but only as a civilian employee).  She did not start transition until after completion of service.  In 1993, radio interviewer Scott Peck presented a woman who had left the Navy after 15 years to undergo transition and was rehired into the same Naval intelligence position as a civilian analyst with the same clearances.  There are reports that the Navy Seals are allowing one woman to join now (the film “G.I. Jane” from 1997).

Perhaps the narrative of Chelsea Manning has left a bad impression.

The tweet could pose a question for Selective Service Registration, which right now requires registration according to original gender (story).   Trump’s order did not consider this immediate complication. There has been some talk of (and actually a bill) forcing women to register for Selective Service, so that would implicitly include transgender. 

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