A month after he announced a ban on transgender people serving in the military via Twitter, Donald Trump has issued a memo on how the decision is to be implemented.
The two-and-a-half-page note says Defense Secretary Jim Mattis must consider a service member’s ‘deployability’ when deciding whether to eject them from the military.
That means that if they are unable to serve in a war zone, take part in training or serve on a ship for months, they must go, the Wall Street Journal reported.
It has not been spelled out exactly how the criteria will be assessed, however the Trump administration seems to be implying that it does not believe transgender service people are deployable.
The policy gives the Pentagon six months to oust ‘non-deployable’ transgender service members, bans new transgender hires and orders the Pentagon to stop paying for trans service members’ medical treatments.
It has been criticized by transgender representatives.
‘Transgender people are just as deployable as other service members,’ said Sue Fulton, the former president of Sparta, a military organization for LGBT people that advocates for open service.
‘Other service members may undergo procedures when they are at home base, just as other service members schedule shoulder surgery or gall bladder surgery,’ added Fulton, who achieved the rank of captain in the army, and is not transgender.
She said that there are no ‘ongoing treatments’ that would render transgender soldiers, sailors and pilots non-deployable.
‘Thus there’s no difference between the deployability of transgender service members’ and that of others, she said.
A Rand Corp study commissioned last year estimated that there were between 1,320 and 6,000 transgender people openly serving in the military.
Advocacy groups put the figure for those on active duty at 7,000 and total figures across all areas of the military at 11,000.
The Rand Corp survey noted that not all of them seek treatment – and those that do have treatment that would render them non-deployable are few in number.
Using surveys and private health insurance data, the study concluded that only 29 to 129 members in the military’s active component would be rendered non-deployable by their planned treatment.
The new memo is the first attempt by the government to provide guidance to the Pentagon on how to follow through on the rule Trump announced on July 26.
He tweeted: ‘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 US 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.’
The Rand Corp’s survey concluded that it would cost between $2.4 million and $8.4 million a year to treat transgender service members – that’s 0.04-0.13 per cent of 2014’s $6.27 billion military budget.
It’s also just 2.86-10 per cent of the $84 million spent by the US military on Viagra and similar sexual health supplements per year, according to Military Times.
Trump’s announcement – which was opposed by 58 per cent of the country according to a July 28 Reuters/Ipsos poll – came after pressure from conservatives.
They were concerned by the July 1, 2017 opening date for transgender recruitment.
That was set by Barack Obama in 2016; at the same time, he immediately allowed transgender people already in the military to begin serving openly.
That has left some in the military’s upper echelons concerned about how to justify implementing the ban – particularly as there are long-serving servicemen and women who announced they were transgender after Obama’s order came through.
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Source: Daily Mail