The Trump administration is instituting its transgender military ban, now that all legal impediments have been cleared. The U.S. Defense Department approved the new rules on Tuesday, which will bar most trans troops and military recruits. It will go into effect April 12.
The memo, obtained by the Associated Press, was signed by Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist, and will force out those troops who require hormone replacement therapy or gender affirming surgeries, and those “who can’t or won’t serve in their birth genders.”
Beginning April 12, the military will also no longer accept recruits who are experiencing gender dysphoria, or are taking hormones, or seek to transition.
The ban has been the subject of a lengthy, and ongoing, legal battle, but it is now able to go into effect after the last block was lifted last week. The president asked the Supreme Court to intercede late last year, and it agreed to lift injunctions while cases challenging it move through the courts. Trump has attempted to characterize trans soldiers as detrimental to unit cohesion, and cited the healthcare costs as burdensome.
As the AP notes, an estimated 14,700 troops on active duty and in the Reserves currently identify as transgender, although not all seek medical intervention. Since July 2016, more than 1,500 service members were diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
According to the Pentagon’s own numbers, the department has only spent about $8 million on transgender care since 2016, with an overall annual military health care budget topping $50 billion.
The Obama administration lifted the restriction on transgender people serving in the armed forces in 2016, but Trump took aim at that policy with a series of tweets that surprised even his own military leaders.
“The President’s revival of his bigoted, disgusting ban on transgender servicemembers is a stunning attack on the patriots who keep us safe and on the most fundamental ideals of our nation,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “The President’s years-long insistence on his cowardly ban makes clear that prejudice, not patriotism, guides his decisions.”
“With brazen disregard for the judicial process, the Pentagon is prematurely and illegally rolling out a plan to implement the ban when a court injunction remains in place prohibiting them from doing so,” said Jennifer Levi, the director of the Transgender Rights Project of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), in a statement.
“In addition to being unlawful, moving forward with this ban is also deeply immoral and deeply insulting to the many transgender troops who are bravely serving their country.”
“Our transgender siblings-in-arms and future warriors have proven time and again that they are committed, that they are ready, and that they are able to selflessly and effectively serve our nation,” said Andy Blevins, the executive director of OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, in a statement. “We will continue to fight until open and authentic military service is the law of the land – our service members deserve it and our country needs it.”