“Blatant transphobia,” said Nicky Garza, a Richland student and transgender veteran.
This is how Garza described the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold the Trump administration’s ban on both transgender individuals enlisting in the military and troops undergoing gender transition.
President Trump’s ban was upheld by the Supreme Court on Jan. 22. The court ruled 5-4 in favor of the ban but did not elaborate on its decision.
This decision reverses an Obama-era policy of allowing transgender individuals to enlist in the military—a policy that became effective on Jan. 1, 2018.
Under the Trump administration’s new policy, however, transgender individuals may no longer enlist.
Furthermore, the decision halts another Obama-era policy dating from 2016 that allowed troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria to undergo gender transition.
Now, troops with gender dysphoria must continue to serve as their biological sex, no matter their gender identification or level of discomfort. Troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria and fully transitioned under Obama’s policy, however, may continue to serve in the military.
It is important to note that Trump has not banned transgender individuals from serving in the military; rather, he has banned transgender individuals from enlisting and military personnel from transitioning to another gender during their service.
The Pentagon and Justice Department supported the Supreme Court ruling. Kerri Kupec, spokeswoman of the Justice Department, said that Obama-era policies had posed “a risk to military effectiveness and lethality,” and the Pentagon issued a statement saying that the new policy will “ensure the most lethal and combat effective fighting force.”
Trump says that he banned transgender enlistments and troop gender transitions because transgender troops pose a risk to fellow soldiers and reduce the lethality of the US military—though it is unclear in what ways enlistments and troop gender transitions because transgender troops pose a risk to fellow soldiers and reduce the lethality of the US military—though it is unclear in what ways transgender troops do so.
“It’s really sad,” said Avery Hall, a Richland student and president of the Pride at Richland College (PARC) student organization. “I think [Trump’s] reasoning was because trans people are a ‘distraction.’”
“I think it had something else to do with funding for transitioning [which involves] hormone therapy,” said Valerie Jimenez, a Richland student and member of PARC. “[But] I mean, considering how much they spend on weapons ane transferring soldiers here and there, that costs way more than giving someone testosterone…. I think it all boils down to funding. That’s the main excuse I’ve heard so far.”
Jesus Porras, a veteran services administration clerk at Richland College, also cited “financial reasons” as possible grounds for the ban.
“A lot of [the ban] has to do with financial [motives] just because the military has other issues that they have to address first. I mean, would you much rather have your taxpayer dollars going towards somebody’s transition… or would you much rather have it go towards advances in the military funding for the protection of what they having going on, missions that they’re carrying out, or stuff like that? So that’s where I would believe it kind of underlies [the ban],” said Porras.
Trump has indicated money as the prime motivator for his ban pointing to a RAND Corporation study estimating that military gender transition procedures would cost between $2.4 million and $8.4 million per year.
Hall believes that the rationale behind the ban boils down to military spending and Trump’s desire to force his views on everyone else.
“There’s no valid reason for it,” said Hall.
Meanwhile, Porras stated that “At the end of the day, business needs to get done. And that’s a lot of what the military’s about: business.”
It is easy to point out the ban’s macro-effects on military policy and the political climate.
But the ban also has micro-effects on individual soldiers and their families. Garza counts among their friends many transgender veterans.
“[Transgender troops] are pretty much not knowing what to do because this is coming off the heels of the big government shutdown. So already they’re worried about feeding their families right now, they’re also worried about where their future is and all that. So, it’s a very unsure and stressful time for them,” Garza said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.