On Tuesday, Jan. 22, the Supreme Court announced a 5-4 vote that transgender individuals would no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, solidifying a policy proposed by Trump on Twitter in July 2017. The court announced that it would move forward with this policy in place, until a case regarding the ban comes to the Supreme Court, where they could conduct a formal legal ruling on the matter. Many Americans are outraged over this policy, as they believe this policy deprives individuals who are hard working and want to serve the nation’s military.
The new policy comes with a few conditions that make the ban less absolute, while still not ideal for transgender individuals wanting to serve. These conditions state that service members diagnosed with gender dysphoria that are willing to serve as their sex assigned at birth, and service members who have not been on hormone treatment for three years or more prior to joining are still permitted to serve. Essentially, any trans person who embraces their identity and lives an open life is not allowed to be in the U.S. military.
According to The New York Times, the Pentagon released a statement stating, “we treat all transgender people with respect and dignity.” In reality, they are saying they treat all transgender people with respect — as long as they are willing to suppress being transgender.
Organization heads, citizens and legal experts alike have spoken out to voice their discontent with this new policy. Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran and the chairman for votevets.org, said, “The Supreme Court has made it harder for every commander in the military today. They’re literally going to have to look at some of the best troops we have and kick them out for being honest about who they are.”
Veterans from this organization know firsthand the immense responsibility that falls on the shoulders of military commanders. A policy like this will only make matters more difficult for these individuals, as they will have to find and train new people for their positions.
Trump’s major justification for the ban was the cost of transgender related medical costs. However, there seems to be no problem with spending large amounts of money on Viagra — one Washington Post article reported that the U.S. military spends $84 million a year on the medicine. Projected costs of healthcare of trans military personnel would be a fifth of that. To some, the thought process behind this decision seems to be fuzzy, and that it will only have negative impacts on both the U.S. military and the LGBTQ community at large.
There is hope in how the court may rule when similar cases are brought forward in the future. Despite Trump’s request, the court refused to hear two cases currently in the liberal-leaning Ninth Circuit Court. A Supreme Court ruling would likely limit the rights of transgender folks, which would set the legal precedent for transgender rights cases going forward. It is unclear what the intent of this decision was, but it is possible that it means a this ruling could be overturned a future Supreme Court case.
This decision is yet another way the Trump administration has limited the rights of transgender individuals within the U.S. It is currently unclear what the outcome of this series of decisions will be. Will these policies be able to be overturned under a new administration? Or will the damage be too deep and affect the lives of the transgender community for years to come?