On Veteran’s Day we wish to thank every member of the forces for their sacrifice and commitment to our country. A career in the military can open opportunities and change a person’s life and today we celebrate each and every member for their service.
As a nation that holds freedom and bravery in high regard, today we must also recognize that discriminating against transgender people who are ready and able to serve their country goes against our country’s values.
Transgender people are twice as likely to be veterans as the rest of the US population. According to the 2015 US Transgender Survey, one in five transgender people have either served in the military or are currently enlisted in the military. In July of 2017, without consulting military leadership, Trump announced a total ban on trans people in the military. Medical experts, military generals, and budget analysts have all said there are zero credible reasons for the ban.
The decision to exclude transgender Americans from serving in the military is discriminatory based on gender, plain and simple. Banning the entire transgender community from serving in the military based on medical costs is without logic, particularly when we take into consideration the gender specific medical costs already covered by the military. For instance, in 2014 the Pentagon spent $84.24 million on 1.18 million prescriptions for erectile dysfunction drugs. With the medical costs the military covers which are already specific to gender, how can we justify not extending health care to transgender individuals, especially when that care costs a fraction of that spent on gender specific healthcare already covered. Furthermore, being transgender has no impact on service members' ability to safely and efficiently do the the job, and the experience of transgender service members refutes concerns that their service undercuts unit cohesion or military readiness.
Like the thousands of transgender service members before them, younger transgender people will not have access to the same opportunities. And active transgender troops face an uncertain future in the military under Trump’s ban, and continue to serve knowing their Commander in Chief has deemed them unfit and is maliciously forcing them to deny their true selves. Removing transgender pilots, intelligence specialists, medical professionals and others with specialized skills, especially at a time when military recruitment is declining, is counterproductive to our Country’s goal of having the best and most effective military force.
We support transgender troops and veterans for their bravery and service to our country and call upon the U.S. Defense Department to end discrimination based on gender identity in the armed forces.