Trump announces ban on transgender individuals from serving in military, WU community reacts
President Donald Trump announced that the United States will not permit individuals who identify as transgender to serve in the military — in a decision that will not impact University policy — Wednesday.
In a series of tweets, the president stated that the U.S. government would not “accept or allow transgender people to serve in any capacity” in the military. According to the president, “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.” His decision, he tweeted, was made in consultation with currently unnamed generals and military experts.
According to a 2016 study by the RAND corporation, a nonprofit global policy think tank, there are up to 6,630 transgender service members, out of 1.3 million service members, in the active component of the military. Not all service members who identify as transgender will seek gender transition-related treatment, the study finds.
While the tweets were met with outrage by some, others praised the president for absolving the government of the responsibility to fund gender transition-related medical treatments, a practice under the Obama administration. Since the White House has not provided any further details, the question remains as to the status of active trans* service members and as to how the ban will be implemented.
Despite Washington University’s commitment to a politically neutrality stance in the past, members of the administration and faculty, including Chancellor Mark Wrighton, have spoken against Trump-era policies. Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Jill Friedman noted that while Washington University is not involved in these policy discussions, the University will continue to foster a global community on campus.
“Regardless of decisions that may be made in Washington, D.C., our focus continues to be on making our community more diverse, more inclusive and more welcoming. We will not let up. In fact, times like this only intensify our resolve and commitment,” Friedman wrote in an emailed statement.
Pride Alliance, Washington University’s LGBTQIA* group that focuses on social, activist, and education goals for all of campus, views the ban as a larger disregard for trans* lives.
“Denying trans* people the right to serve their country effectively adds fire to the sensationalist and dehumanizing rhetoric that state and local governments use to justify discriminatory policies from bathroom bans to the denial of healthcare benefits,” a Pride Alliance statement read. “This policy further cements hatred and bigotry into our government and is devastating to the thousands of trans* service members whose hard work and sacrifices have been disregarded. Going forward, Pride [Alliance] hopes provide support to the Washington University trans* community and provide spaces to discuss issues like these.”