Trump order bans most transgender people from military
Trump ban on transgender people in military: facts and misconceptions
Evan Young, a transgender veteran.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump in a series of tweets that the US military would no longer accept transgender people.
His announcement signals a reversal of President Barack Obama's 2019 decision to allow transgender people to serve. After a trial period that ended July 1, Secretary of Defense James Mattis delayed the full implementation of that policy for six months.
"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," Trump tweeted.
The RAND Corporation, a think tank, estimated in 2019 that there were between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender personnel in the active component of the military (out of about 1.4 million) and about 1,510 in the reserves. It is not yet clear whether those in the military who came out as transgender after Obama lifted the ban will be discharged.
Regardless of what happens on a policy level, Trump's tweets have brought to light some questions and misconceptions about what it means to be transgender. Here's what you need to know.
Sex versus gender
Transgender is an umbrella term that describes people whose gender identity is different from the one they were assigned at birth.
The terms sex and gender, while often used interchangeably, are not the same.
A person's sex refers to whether they are biologically male or female — an assignment given at birth based on physical characteristics, including chromosomes and reproductive organs. A person's gender, on the other hand, refers to their internal sense of gender, which can fall on a spectrum.
People who identify with the gender that matches their sex are called cisgender. People who identify as neither male nor female, or somewhere else on the gender spectrum, may describe themselves as nonbinary or genderqueer.
Gender dysphoria is a condition in which a person experiences distress because their assigned sex does not match their gender identity. However, there is a consensus within the medical community that the diagnosis and treatment should be medical rather than psychiatric.
Young retired as an Army major in 2013. YouTube/Screenshot
How someone knows they are trans
People can realize they are transgender at any point in their lives, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. Some make this distinction at puberty or earlier, while others take years to understand their gender identity, sometimes because of fear, shame, or confusion.
Healthcare for transgender people
Trump's tweets said that transgender people serving in the military would cause "tremendous medical costs and disruption."
But it's important to note that not all transgender people want or pursue transition-related medical treatment. If they do, the medical care they seek depends on their preferences. Care can include hormone-replacement therapy or gender-confirmation surgery, according to the American Medical Student Association.
RAND Corporation's analysis found that the financial costs of allowing transgender people to serve would be low, considering the military's overall healthcare costs. By its estimate, between 29 and 129 of the US military's 1.4 million troops would most likely seek gender-confirmation surgery annually. The procedure, which can include a hormone process, anesthesia, and a hospital stay, can cost upward of 0,000 without insurance.
On July 13, the House defeated a proposal that would have prevented the Pentagon from funding gender-confirmation surgery and hormone therapy for service members. The RAND report estimated that if transition-related services were extended to active-duty personnel, the military's healthcare costs would increase by between .4 million and .4 million a year — at most a 0.13% increase over the .2 billion the Defense Department spent on healthcare for active-duty personnel.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, which has a separate budget, seeks to spend billion on medical care in fiscal 2019.
Members of the 30th Heavy Separate Brigade of the North Carolina Army National Guard. Reuters
Serving in the military as a transgender person
According to a 2014 survey by the NCTE and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, about one-fifth of all transgender adults are veterans, making transgender people approximately twice as likely as others to serve in the military, The Washington Post reported.
A 2014 article published in the academic journal Medical Forces &Societyconcludedthattransgenderservicememberswereasdeployableandmedicallyreadyastheircisgenderpeers,withfewexceptions.
"AnyAmericanwhomeetscurrentmedicalandreadinessstandardsshouldbeallowedtocontinueserving,"McCainsaidinastatement."Thereisnoreasontoforceservicememberswhoareabletofight,train,anddeploytoleavethemilitary— regardless of their gender identity."
When asked what would happen to deployed transgender military personnel around the world, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was "something that the Department of Defense and the White House will have to work together on as implementation takes place."
Aaron Devor, the chair of transgender studies at the University of Victoria in Canada, said Trump's ban on transgender people in the military was unlikely to be upheld in court should it face legal challenges.
"Trans military personnel serve bravely and loyally in 18 countries around the world," he told Business Insider. "Trump's rejection of trans troops in the US has no basis in objective evidence. This is bald-faced and counterproductive reactionary bigotry. This ban will be overturned in the courts.
Video: Trump issues order to ban most transgender people from military
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