Military to start enlisting transgender recruits January 1, 2018

It's another loss for Trump's trans ban

Published December 11, 2017 3:44PM (EST)

The extent to which President Donald Trump seems to not understand how lawmaking works is becoming more and more apparent as yet another one of his off-the-cuff Twitter policies seems close to death.

Having been foiled by no less than two federal courts, the president's proposed ban on transgender people serving in the military finds itself stymied again after the Pentagon announced Monday that, barring any new actions by the administration, enlistments of trans service members will begin Jan. 1, 2018.

Pentagon spokesperson Maj. David Eastburn told the Associated Press Monday that there is still potential for a trans applicant to be disqualified from serving for gender dysphoria. Still, if  a doctor verifies that the individual has been living stably on their medications in their affirmed gender for more than 18 months, they may serve.

"Due to the complexity of this new medical standard, trained medical officers will perform a medical prescreen of transgender applicants for military service who otherwise meet all applicable applicant standards," Eastburn said.

Though any new trans recruits would have to meet this and other standards for enlisting, it will soon be very possible they will indeed serve.

Trump’s proposed ban has been met with criticism, and legal and bureaucratic woes, since he tweeted that trans people would no longer be able to serve, in July, citing unsubstantiated claims of huge medical costs and "disruption."

This was in opposition to the Obama administration lifting the original, longstanding ban on trans enlistment in 2016. The policy stated that openly trans people would be able to serve in the military within twelve months, or July 2017, when Trump tried to halt the momentum with his tweet.

Trans people already already serve in our nation's armed forces —  hundreds of thousands of them, according to a 2014 study by the Williams Institute, which based their findings on questions regarding transgender status implying a gender transition or at least discordance between assigned sex and current gender presentation.

Our estimates suggest that approximately 15,500 transgender individuals are serving on active duty or in the [National] Guard or Reserve forces. We also estimate that there are an estimated 134,300 transgender individuals who are veterans or are retired from Guard or Reserve service.

As much as transgender military service is a civil-rights issue, it’s also an employment one. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, the unemployment rate for trans individuals is three times higher than the national average, with 27 percent of trans people reporting being fired, not hired or denied a promotion due to gender identity. Though there is little data on employment rates of trans people by field, some suggest that the military may be the largest employer of members of the trans community.

By Jarrett Lyons

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