Military Still Keeping Most Trans Troops Out With Red Tape

One transgender man was denied because of a knee surgery he had as an infant that has caused no issues since.

Despite numerous courts blocking President Trump’s transgender military ban, bureaucratic red tape is being used to keep them out.

Following the failed attempt at upholding Trump’s ban outright, the White House announced a new policy in March that kept most trans people from enlisting by stating that people “with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria,” requiring medication, surgery or other treatment are disqualified from military service “except under certain limited circumstances.”

Documents uncovered in May showed the administration spoke to so-called experts on the subject, the names of which were redacted, on both sides of the issue and appear to have ignored those arguing for allowing transgender people to serve openly.

transgender military ban
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A report from The New York Times shows the lengths the military is going under Trump’s leadership to keep transgender people out. In fact, nearly all the transgender recruits who have tried to join up since a federal court ordered they should be allowed to serve have been kept from doing just that.

That includes Nicholas Bade, a double black belt who, despite having easily passed the military aptitude test and having all his paperwork in order showing he is fit to serve, is still waiting for the opportunity after six months. The 38-year-old has been on hormones since 2014, and told WBEZ he had been talking with a recruiter since 2015.

Sparta, an organization for transgender recruits, troops, and veterans, told the Times that out of its 140 members who are trying to enlist, only two have made it into the service since January 1, when they were officially allowed to sign up.

transgender military ban protest
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The Military Entrance Processing Command has been rejecting trans applicants and holding others up for months by requiring more and more medical records.

Meanwhile, recruiters are being asked to work weekends to make up for a shortage of eligible enlistees. Several recruits told the Times those recruiters have been supportive, leaving them hopeful they would be able to serve.

“We’ve heard people are meeting with mystifying obstacles,” said Shannon Minter, a lawyer with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which sued over the ban. “We want to give the military the benefit of the doubt, but at this point so few applicants have been accepted, there is reason to be concerned that there is some passive resistance to the injunctions, and people are getting slow-walked.”

An applicant who wished to remain anonymous said he was rejected over a knee surgery he had as an infant, which has caused him no issues since.

Journalist based in Charlotte, North Carolina, whose work has appeared in The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing, and more.