The U.S. military will start accepting transgender recruits January 1st, and it's about time
The country released a collective breath on Friday, December 29th, when the Pentagon announced it would be accepting transgender recruits in the military starting January 1st. At least for now, the White House has chosen not to appeal several court rulings blocking President Donald Trump’s proposed ban on trans military members. Yes! Crisis (very nearly) averted.
The ban has been a hot topic since July 2017, when Trump announced a policy that would prohibit transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. That decision reversed a policy set in motion by former President Barack Obama. During his administration, Obama had set a July 1st, 2017 deadline for the military to accept out trans recruits.
But six months after his inauguration, Trump turned that on its head. He tweeted that our military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption” of trans service members, and claimed he consulted with his “generals and military experts” in making the decision.
The tweet (unsurprisingly) resulted in an outcry of disapproval from trans rights activists. Some claimed the ban was not only an attack on trans service members, but on healthcare for all transgender people. To them, Trump’s tweets insinuated that trans healthcare is frivolous and expensive.
Luckily, many people fought back.
That included almost 50 senators who signed a letter penned by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand urging the defense secretary to ignore Trump’s ban.
Since July, four federal judges have issued rulings blocking Trump’s ban while legal challenges to the policy continue to unfold. They reasoned the ban would likely violate the constitutional right to equal protection under the law, according to Reuters.
However, the road to full equality still has some bumps ahead. The Department of Defense will soon release an independent study on the issue of banning transgender recruits. Let’s hope it shows just how important trans people are to the U.S. military.