US President Donald Trump’s ban on trans troops in the US military has gone into effect.
People who are openly trans or in the process of gender affirmation treatment have been banned from enlisting as of Friday (12 April).
The move has been widely condemned by trans rights supporters, politicians and public figures.
The ban takes effect after a federal appeals court struck down the last attempt to block the ban in March.
Some commentators have said the move sees the US military partially returning to the so-called ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ era.
‘Forcing brave American heroes to hide who they are’
According to a 2016 survey by the Rand Corporation, there may be an estimated 10,000 trans individuals serving in the US military.
The ban will now require them to hide their identity. Trans rights advocates and troops have said it will lead to increased stigma and mental health issues among trans servicepeople, the Guardian reports.
‘With the implementation of this transgender military ban, our nation is once again shamefully forcing brave American heroes to hide who they are in order to serve,’ said Ashley Broadway-Mack, the president of the American Military Partner Association.
‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ was an unofficial rule which banned openly LGBTI people from serving in the US military. However, it allowed gay personnel to serve, as long as they were not open about their sexuality.
The rule was repealed by former President Barak Obama in 2011.
‘Tremendous medical costs and disruption’
Trump first proposed the ban in a tweet in July 2017, in which he declared that trans individuals would not be allowed to ‘serve in the US military in any capacity’. It was an announcement that surprised even defense officials.
The president justified the ban by incorrectly claiming that allowing trans troops to serve came with ‘tremendous medical costs and disruption’.
In reality, trans troops’ healthcare costs amount to very little of the overall budget. The US military spends five times the amount on Viagra than on the healthcare costs of trans servicepeople.
Trump later walked back on the announcement, offering a watered-down version of the ban.
‘An act of cruelty’
Since it was first announced, numerous equal rights advocates, politicians and public figures have lambasted the ban.
In February, several trans servicepeople testified before Congress to speak out against the ban. During the hearing, committee chairwoman Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) described the ban as ‘unconstitutional, discriminatory, and self-defeating’.
Last month saw the United States House of Representatives vote against the ban in a non-binding resolution. Although the vote had no legislative power, it was a symbolic show of support for trans members of the military.
Earlier this month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned the ban as an ‘act of cruelty’ which would leave the Trump administration’s legacy in the ‘dustbin of history’.
The ban has also been met with derision from former military personnel.
In January, former four-star army general Stanley McChrystal described the ban as ‘a mistake’.
Kristen Beck, a trans woman and former US Navy SEAL, has also hit out at the ban on numerous occasions.
Woeful record on trans rights
The ban is in keeping with the Trump administration’s woeful record on trans rights.
The White House received widespread condemnation in October 2018 after a leaked memo suggested that the Department of Health and Human Services was planning to restrict the definition of sex to genitalia at birth.
Trans rights advocates, multinational businesses and members of the science community took a stand against the move. Many claim that the move would ‘legally erase’ trans people.
The White House has also made moves to roll back Obama-era legislation protecting the rights of trans students in US schools and trans prisoners.