President Donald Trump made an unexpected policy change announcement via Twitter on Wednesday, saying that the United States Military will no longer “accept or allow” transgender people to serve.
The president sent a string of tweets during the morning, saying that after speaking with “(his) generals and military experts,” military forces “must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory” and simply couldn’t afford to accommodate them.
In June, the Trump administration announced it would delay its decision on whether or not it would allow transgender recruits to join the military. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he needed at least an additional six months to study the subject and see its potential impact.
The change in policy is a direct reversal from that of former President Barack Obama, who announced last year that transgender people would be allowed to “openly” serve in the military.
So, how many transgender people currently serve in the military?
Well, a 2016 RAND Corporation study showed that of the approximately 1.3 million people who are considered active-duty members of the military in 2014, about 2,450 of them are transgender, making up about just 0.1-0.5 percent of the active-duty military. In addition, it’s estimated that about 1,510 transgender people serve in the Selected Reserve.
As far as future estimates, the study predicted that about 40-190 military personnel would seek gender transition per year, 30-140 would seek hormone therapy per year and 25-130 would seek actual surgical treatment a year.
Read the full RAND study below:
Another study performed in 2014 by UCLA’s law school, The Williams Institute, found that about 150,000 transgender people have served in the military.
In addition, an estimated 134,000 transgender individuals are veterans or are retired from Guard or Reserve service, 8,800 transgender adults are currently on active duty in the U.S. armed forces, and an estimated 6,700 transgender individuals are serving in the Guard or Reserve forces.
Read the full study from The Williams Institute below.
Kristin Beck, a retired Navy SEAL, told TampaBay.com that she believes there are about 75,000 to 150,000 trans servicepeople in uniform right now. She told the newspaper that she thinks Trump’s decision will cost more in lawsuits than it will in health and other savings the president touted.
“Let’s meet face to face and you tell me I’m not worthy,” Beck told Business Insider. “Transgender doesn’t matter. Do your service. Being transgender doesn’t affect anyone else. We are liberty’s light. If you can’t defend that for everyone that’s an American citizen, that’s not right.”
You can read more about Beck here.
Trump’s announcement comes at a time when there’s ongoing debate on Capitol Hill regarding the practice by the Obama administration of requiring the Pentagon to pay for the medical treatments that are directly related to gender transition, the New York Times reported. Congress has been considering a spending bill that amounts to almost $700 billion to fund the Pentagon.
Representative Vicky Hartzler of Missouri proposed an amendment to the bill that would ban funding for gender transition surgery or hormone therapy. But it was rejected by the House on July 13 after Democrats described it as “bigoted, unconstitutional and cowardly,” The Washington Post reported.