New guid­ance on trans­gen­der troops ap­pears less rigid

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - TRUMP PRESIDENCY - By Julie Wat­son and Jen­nifer McDer­mott

SAN DIEGO — Ac­tive-duty trans­gen­der troops say a pol­icy change that puts them at risk of be­ing re­moved and in­def­i­nitely bars trans­gen­der peo­ple from en­list­ing in the mil­i­tary is a step back­ward for civil rights that will pro­mote in­equal­ity in the armed forces.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day di­rected the Pen­tagon to ex­tend a ban on trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als join­ing the mil­i­tary but gave the Pen­tagon the author­ity to de­cide the fu­ture of openly trans­gen­der peo­ple al­ready serv­ing. Trump ap­peared to leave open the pos­si­bil­ity of al­low­ing some trans­gen­der peo­ple who al­ready are in uni­form to re­main.

The guid­ance from the White House con­tra­dicts Trump’s words, Army Capt. Jen­nifer Sims said, point­ing out that he praised the mil­i­tary for its tol­er­ance when he told vet­er­ans in Ne­vada on Wed­nes­day that those in uni­form come from all walks of life and are united by shared val­ues and a shared sense of duty.

“It’s go­ing to cre­ate this sit­u­a­tion where there is a com­plete in­equal­ity in how trans­gen­der troops are treated,” said Sims, 28, who is based in Ger­many and is tak­ing pills to prepare for her tran­si­tion surgery.

That is not the mil­i­tary’s prob­lem, said Elaine Don­nelly, pres­i­dent of the Cen­ter for Mil­i­tary Readi­ness, which has op­posed al­low­ing trans­gen­der peo­ple to serve.

“The armed forces are not just another equal op­por­tu­nity em­ployer,” Don­nelly said in a state­ment. The mil­i­tary’s limited funds, she added, should not be used “to in­dulge trans­gen­der de­mands.”

Trans­gen­der peo­ple have been al­lowed to serve openly in the mil­i­tary since June 2016. Trump, in a se­ries of tweets on July 26, an­nounced that he planned to end that pol­icy.

The gov­ern­ment “will not ac­cept or al­low trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als to serve in any ca­pac­ity in the U.S. mil­i­tary,” he tweeted, con­tend­ing that their ser­vice en­tailed “tremen­dous med­i­cal costs and dis­rup­tion.”

A 2016 study by the RAND Corp. es­ti­mated it would cost the mil­i­tary $2.4 mil­lion to $8.4 mil­lion a year to pro­vide gen­der tran­si­tion-re­lated cov­er­age, an in­crease of 0.04 per­cent to 0.13 per­cent in health care spend­ing for ac­tive-duty mem­bers. Re­searchers es­ti­mated 29 to 129 ac­tive-duty ser­vice mem­bers an­nu­ally would seek such treat­ment.

The new guid­ance, as de­scribed by an of­fi­cial fa­mil­iar with its con­tents but not au­tho­rized by the White House to dis­cuss it pub­licly, ap­pears to be less rigid than the com­plete ban that Trump tweeted about.

The of­fi­cial said the guid­ance puts a stop to re­cruit­ment of trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als and pro­hibits the use of fed­eral funds to pay for gen­der re­as­sign­ment surgery, ex­cept in cases where it is deemed nec­es­sary to pro­tect the health of an in­di­vid­ual who has al­ready be­gun the tran­si­tion. But it would give De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis six months to de­ter­mine cir­cum­stances in which those cur­rently in uni­form who are openly trans­gen­der might be per­mit­ted to con­tinue serv­ing.

Trump con­tends the mil­i­tary should not pay for med­i­cal care for trans­gen­der ser­vice mem­bers to tran­si­tion to another gen­der, and that the process means they can­not be de­ployed, harm­ing the readi­ness of the armed forces.

Ac­cord­ing to the pol­icy adopted un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, com­man­ders have the dis­cre­tion to de­cide when to al­low trans­gen­der troops to start their treat­ment to tran­si­tion to a dif­fer­ent gen­der to en­sure that it does not dis­rupt op­er­a­tions. Com­man­ders can also de­cide whether a per­son un­der­go­ing treat­ment is still fit to be de­ployed.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.