Trump’s Ban on Transgender Troops: A Considerable Controversy

Dhristi Raval ‘20

In a series of Twitter messages on July 26th, 2017, President Donald J. Trump proposed an overall ban on transgender troops in the U.S. military. He stated that the American forces cannot afford the taxing medical costs of and disruption that transgender troops create, and thus sent a presidential message banning all transgender members from military service.

However, many federal judges voted their opposition to Trump’s proposed plan. Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a federal judge of the U.S. Supreme Court, blocked the enforcement of Trump’s military ban. She argued that the military ban was violating the rights of the transgender community. With the argument that the ban was unconstitutional and swayed by prejudice, she ruled that the military’s current policy, that people can serve regardless of their gender identity, should remain in place. Trump’s proposition outraged many supporting members of the LGBTQ+ community because they viewed it as a violation of their rights in the country. Ridge students echo this sentiment. For example, Anna Skrobala ‘20 states, “I find it ridiculous to ban anyone who wants to serve our country from doing so. A person’s gender has no effect on their patriotism, so why should the government have the right to deny their wants?”

The argument regarding whether or not the transgender ban will be beneficial to the military and economy of the country remains extremely controversial. On one hand, the transgenders in the military provide a heavy medical cost for the U.S. economy. Some argue that people who have transitioned medically require many hormone treatments and appointments after surgery. It is unclear how soldiers who identify as transgender would pay for their treatments apart from including coverage in Tricare, the military health care program. According to private health insurance claims, the cost of gender-related care for trans service members would be $2.4 to $8.4 million annually. These costs would be expensive for the U.S. economy to cover, and people assert that the money would be better put towards weapons and resources for the members of the army. In addition, critics argue that transgenders will infringe upon the privacy of the service member in bathrooms, showers, and bedrooms.

However, some declare that these arguments are invalid and the LGBTQ+ community is entitled to their right to serve their country. To date, there are about 15,000 people serving in the military who identify as transgender. If the community is entirely banned, the military will lose many valuable members and dedicated fighters for the country. Because the pool of Americans willing and qualified to serve has been shrinking over time, due to obesity and other factors, it is harder than ever to recruit high-quality talent. By banning transgenders, the army could potentially lose many strong and dedicated fighters, simply because of their gender identity. Austin Segal ‘20 describes, “I can not come up with any reason why transgender people would be any less fit to fight for our nation than anyone else. The ban is an injustice to transgender patriots, to the strength of our army, to our nation and its values.”  Furthermore, U.S. employers are also becoming more progressive, adding transgender benefits to their health care plans. The issue with medical costs for the community may no longer be problematic with updated health care. As Swokowski, an American advocate for transgender rights and former U.S. Army colonel, says, “Our military is the best fighting force in the history of this planet because of all of these changes, not despite them.” Supporters of the community argue that the nation will only progress forward if people learn to accept people of different races, genders, and sexual orientations fighting for the United States.

Trump’s proposition of banning transgenders from the military angered many LGBTQ+ advocates, but also pleased many people who deemed the ban beneficial towards the success of the military. The Supreme Court denied this ban because the judge declared it unconstitutional. Overall, it is essential that the country does what is necessary to lead the U.S. military successfully, in order to protect and serve the entire nation.