Trump bans ‘disruptive’ transgender troops

Yes we ban: Trump’s July tweets triggered angry protests by transgender rights groups. © Getty

Last year, openly transgender people were allowed into the US military for the first time. Now Trump has banned them again. Why the U-turn? How political should the military be?

One month after declaring on Twitter that transgender troops cause “tremendous medical costs and disruption,” Donald Trump has signed a presidential memorandum officially banning transgender individuals from enlisting in the military.

The ban reverses a historic Obama-era decision to allow openly transgender troops. Under the policy, announced last year, the Pentagon would also have paid for its employees’ gender reassignment surgery. Conservative Republicans in Congress have been trying to get rid of this provision.

Their efforts reportedly pushed Trump to act. Friday’s memo also bans the Department of Defence from providing medical treatment regimens for transgender individuals already serving. It is not yet known how this will affect current transgender troops.

Though praised by some conservatives, the move has been criticised by moderate Republicans and Democrats, as well as activists. They argue that the annual cost of surgery is estimated at $2.4m to $8.4m — meaning a 0.04% to 0.13% increase in military health care spending. In other words, hardly “tremendous”.

This ban has prompted a debate about the military’s role in relation to social issues. How involved should it get?

Fight or flight

Not at all, say some. Anyone should be allowed to serve in the military. But when it takes public stances on gender issues it is forgetting its role. It is there to protect the nation, not to partake in distracting social experiments.

You’re wrong, reply others. The US military is the world’s biggest employer; it simply cannot avoid social issues. Its decisions — on gender, health, pay, everything — set an example for everyone else. It has a duty to think about them carefully, then defend them publicly.

You Decide

  1. Was Trump right to ban transgender troops?

Activities

  1. Trump initially announced his ban in three tweets. Summarise this article in three tweets (maximum for each tweet 140 characters).

Some People Say...

“Gender is the most important part of one’s identity.”

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The military was due to start recruiting transgender people as of July 1st. But under the new ban, transgender individuals will not be able to enlist. The Department of Defence has also been barred from providing medical treatment regimens to those currently enlisted.
What do we not know?
How the ban will affect transgender troops currently serving.

Word Watch

Reportedly
According to Politico, Republicans had threatened to block a bill that contained money for Trump’s flagship policies if the funding for gender reassignment surgery was not dropped.
Estimated
According to a 2016 report by the RAND Corporation. It estimates that between 1,320 and 6,630 of the 1.3m active-duty personnel are transgender. Some activist groups put the figure as high as 15,000.
World’s biggest employer
The Department of Defence employs 3.2m, according to the World Economic Forum. The runner-up is the Chinese army, at 2.3m.

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