BY DEVON OVERLEY, Senior English Literature major
The ban spreads hate against people who wish to fight for the country
Just two years after the nationwide legalization of gay marriage, President Donald Trump announced his plan to ban transgender citizens from serving in the military, just one year after its official lift. And now, a year and a half later, the Supreme Court has allowed it to happen.
Hi, I’m a transgender student here at Cleveland State University, and during high school, I was a member of the Air Force Junior ROTC. This is a program funded by the Air Force, and implemented through our (and many other) local Career Center/high school. The instructors were both retired Air Force veterans, both having served over 25 years. In our program, there were quite a few students who were a part of the LGBTQ+ community, but none of us were trans, or at least we didn’t identify that way at the time.
To hear Trump talk about banning a specific set of individuals from service — people who are willing to lay down their lives to protect the freedom that allows such hateful speech — is nothing short of disrespectful and ignorant. Former President Barack Obama announced his removal of the transgender military ban in the summer of 2016. His announcement was met with much joy and excitement: finally, another step towards equality since the eradication of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
The policy would take a year to fully implement, and so it’s only been since January 2018 that transgender individuals have been allowed to enlist in the military. Trump announced in July 2017, through his Twitter, that the medical costs of allowing transgender military members to serve would be too disruptive to allow. Let’s take a brief look at the numbers here. The total military healthcare budget is nearly $50 billion.
There are roughly 1.3 million soldiers currently serving (and another 8.1 million retired or reserve members), and around 15,000 of them identify as transgender. Even fewer of them want to undergo any kind of medical treatment. The cost for funding these transitions is estimated to be a maximum of $8.5 million. This is .0002 percent of military healthcare funding. To put that in a better perspective, the U.S. Military spends over $41 million on Viagra or other erectile dysfunction medications, which is over .0008 percent of the budget (four times the cost of transgender healthcare).
So we can see where the priorities lie. Many people argue that transgender individuals are a health-risk, that they’re mentally ill or generally unfit for military service. However, the American Psychological Association (APA) has officially removed ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5), and instead replaced it with Gender Dysphoria, which is a genuine medical condition that trans people experience.
It is not one that prevents otherwise healthy adults from serving in the military, according to the American Medical Association (AMA). The World Health Organization agrees with both the APA and AMA on this matter.
A trans military ban will only accomplish two things: allowing discrimination and hate against the trans community and eliminating a portion of military personnel who are ready to give up their lives to protect the freedoms that allow for such hate and widespread discrimination. It is unnecessary and wrong, much like Trump himself. Instead of spreading and succumbing to Trump’s hostility, it’s time to educate and fight back.