Donald Trump to Transgender Service Members: Get Out

Jul 26, 2017

Today, in a three-part tweet thread, President Trump banned transgender personnel from serving in the military.

The “tremendous medical costs” claim associated with transgender service members does not appear to be true.

Last year, the Pentagon commissioned a report on the possible effects of allowing transgender people to serve. The results showed that the costs would be negligible both in terms of medical requirements and unit cohesion. Conducted by the Rand Corporation, the study estimated that there are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender individuals on active duty out of a force of 1.3 million people. The cost of providing these individuals with specialized health care, including possible surgeries, would be between $2.4 million and $8.4 million a year. Total military health-care expenditures were $6.27 billion in 2014.

And yet the issue persists. Two weeks ago, an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have prevented the Pentagon from spending money on gender-related surgery for troops was narrowly defeated. Yesterday, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen asked Congress not to attempt to influence the Pentagon’s policies with regard to transgender service members.

“I led our armed forces under the flawed ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell’ policy and saw firsthand the harm to readiness and morale when we fail to treat all service members according to the same standards,” he told USA Today. “Thousands of transgender Americans are currently serving in uniform and there is no reason to single out these brave men and women and deny them the medical care that they require.”

In light of this, Trump's tweets are particularly disturbing.

But here's some good news. In many cases, corporate leaders are doing the work the government isn't. Companies are standing up for inclusion when it comes to transgender employees and their families. According to the 2015 Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, 66% of Fortune 500 companies have instituted a gender identity non-discrimination policy, up from 3% in 2002. Fortune’s Claire Zillman has called it a "quiet revolution" that is changing the country:

For more than a decade, some of the nation’s largest companies have stepped in where the United States government has not by providing nondiscrimination protections, healthcare benefits, and transition guidelines to their transgender employees, even as the community remained marginalized in mainstream American culture.

And the work continues. Consider this amicus brief filed in March by a coalition of 59 companies in support of Gavin Grimm, a Virginia high school student who brought his fight to use the bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity to the Supreme Court. It’s a full-throated defense of transgender rights, co-signed by a wide variety of firms including Fortune 500 stalwarts Amazon, Apple, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo. It's filled with data which supports the business case for inclusion, but also functions as a collective statement of values that are worth considering now.

I’ll give them the last word:

“Beyond the practical benefits that LGBT-friendly policies foster, amici’s policies of diversity and inclusion reflect their core values, and amici believe that treating transgender people with the dignity and respect they deserve is simply the right thing to do.”

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