The US Defense Secretary, Gen. James Mattis, has announced that contrary to President Trump’s transgender military service order, transgender service members will be allowed to continue to serve until such time as a report with full recommendations is returned.
“Once the panel reports its recommendations and following my consultation with the secretary of Homeland Security, I will provide my advice to the president concerning implementation of his policy direction,” Mattis said. “In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place.”
Secretary Mattis has made his position on this very clear. He is unconcerned with (and possibly angry with) policies that detract from military readiness or the Pentagon’s effectiveness on the battlefield. This pending report will allow Pentagon Officials to review their position on allowing Trans soldiers in the military. Issues such as whether any surgeries or medications should be paid for and how to orchestrate either the dismissal or the full enactment of the order.
The original ban on Trans soldiers was lifted during the Obama Administration, it also “outlined how those troops could receive medical treatment, including gender reassignment surgery, if it was deemed medically necessary.” Many critics of the original lifting suggested that it was a “purposely directed powder keg” for the next administration. Critics also question why no legal action was ever taken against the Obama Administration during the seven years he allowed the ban to stay in place.
According to USA Today, a RAND Corp “study estimated that a few to several thousand transgender troops are on the active duty force of 1.3 million. Researchers found that paying for their health care needs would amount to about $8 million per year and their effect on readiness would be negligible.” This has become a popular argument against President Trump’s decision. It is not, however, an argument that has ever been put forth by the president, nor his staff.
Social Media users are quick to point out that Trans advocates are trying to “debunk” an argument that “no-one has made” rather than deal with the actual arguments in favor of the ban. Such as medical costs and infrastructure related to “intimate spaces” like shared bathrooms and shower facilities. Many opponents of the ban liken it to past issues such as minorities or women in the military, however minorities use the same gender-specific facilities as non-minorities and women have separate facilities from the men. None of which have anything to do with “readiness,” yet that is the argument most often cited by opponents. They cite a negligible or minimal effect on readiness, however even a negligible or minimal effect is still an effect on readiness.
Advocate groups for transgender troops have called putting the ban back in place “discriminatory”, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed suit against it, in the hopes of having it scrapped altogether.
Until the reports come back in and the Pentagon has assessed the results, very few indicators will be available as to the final outcome of this contentious ban.