President Donald Trump has finally followed through on his sudden July announcement that transgender individuals will no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. On Friday, Trump signed a presidential memoranda reversing the Obama-era decision that allowed trans soldiers to serve, once again prohibiting the military from recruiting trans service members.
“In my judgment, the previous Administration failed to identify a sufficient basis to conclude that terminating the Departments’ longstanding policy and practice would not hinder military effectiveness and lethality, disrupt unit cohesion, or tax military resources,” the memo reads. “And there remain meaningful concerns that further study is needed to ensure that continued implementation of last year’s policy change would not have those negative effects.”
Then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter conducted a yearlong study before announcing in June 2016 that people of all gender identities could serve openly in the military.
The memo also bans the Department of Defense from providing medical treatment for transgender service members looking for gender confirmation procedures. A study by the Rand Corporation found that, of the estimated 1,320 to 6,620 transgender individuals already serving on active duty, less than 130 were likely to annually seek gender-confirmation-related treatment that could potentially disrupt their deployments. That treatment is estimated to cost between $2.4 and $8.4 million — just a fraction of the Defense Department’s 2017 budget of $583 billion.
As for the transgender service members who are already in the military, their fate is still unclear: Trump wants the Defense Department and the Homeland Security Department to submit a plan on how to handle them by late February.
It is possible, however, that Trump’s trans ban will never take effect, since it’s already triggering legal battles — five trans active service members are currently suing the president and several top Pentagon officials.