By ADMIR DURAKOVIC
President Donald Trump’s tenure in office so far has been a rocky ride full of twists and turns which would normally be close to impossible to predict. However, with each passing day and each action President Trump takes, it becomes more obvious what he has on his agenda.
On July 26, Trump tweeted, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts… the United States Government will not accept or allow Trangender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” The Commander in Chief went on to explain in subsequent tweets that, “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.”
The announcement came as a surprise to many in the Pentagon. A Pentagon spokesperson, Navy Capt. Je Davis, deviated questions on what Trump’s announcement meant for current military policy. When Navy Capt. Jeff Davis was confronted with questions about military policy, his response was “call the White House,” according to the Associated Press.
President Trump has gone after transgender liberties despite promising members of the LGBT community during his campaign that he would fight for them, while “Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedom and beliefs,” he said in a tweet on June 14, 2016. One month after his initial announcement of the transgender ban, Trump signed an official memo on Aug. 25 that directed the Pentagon to ban transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military. Transgender volunteers are being rejected by a President who avoided the Vietnam draft with “four deferments and a medical disqualification for bone spurs in his foot,” according to the Daily News. Someone who sidestepped a mandatory military draft telling regular healthy people they can’t volunteer to serve their country seems extremely backwards.
Trump’s major reasons for the transgender ban were the excessive costs and the internal disruption in the military. According to research done by the RAND corporation, an American non profit global policy institution that offers research and analysis to the United States Armed Forces, the estimated cost of healthcare for transgender personnel would add “between $2.4 million and $8.4 million per year.” The Associated Press addressed the claims that President Trump’s vacations to his Florida resort Mar-a- Lago cost $3.6 million, saying that they could be “half true.” “No doubt, a presidential trip out of Washington is expensive.“It’s reasonable to assume that Trump’s multiple weekends at Mar-a- Lago cost taxpayers millions,” according to the Associated Press. “Trump will have spent all or part of 53 days in office at leisure, compared with 15 days for Obama through August 2009,” according to the Washington Post. Those 53 days include the seven weekend trips Donald Trump had taken to Mar-a-Lago between his inauguration and April 12, estimating a cost of $21 million spent on vacations in the space of four months, according to the Associated Press.
Our country’s finances clearly aren’t at the top of our president’s concerns when he takes one of his many vacations. His clear indifference when it comes to spending money makes it seem unlikely his concern of military costs was a real reason behind the transgender ban.
“It is unconscionable that the Commander-in- Chief would take aim at his own, loyally serving troops for political reasons at a time when the military needs to focus on real threats,” Palm Center director and San Francisco State University
professor Aaron Belkin said in a statement on the topic of internal disruption in the United States military because of transgender volunteers. “Transgender troops have been serving openly in the U.S. military for more than a year, and have been widely praised by Commanders. All available research, including scholarly publications by the RAND Corporation as well as retired General and Flag Officers, has reached the same conclusion: inclusive policy for LGBT personnel promotes readiness.”
The other major reason Trump stated in his reasoning for banning transgenders from serving in the military has also turned out to be mostly untrue. Trump mentions that our military must be focused on defending us from attacks but needlessly excommunicating volunteers does not seem like an obvious solution to sustaining focus. So while it seems that neither finances nor unrest within the United States military are the driving reasons behind the transgender military ban, it raises the question of why President Trump would instate a transgender military ban.
Transgender personnel were first accepted into the United States military during President Obama’s tenure in office when the Department of Defense repealed a ban on transgenders on June 30, 2016. One common motive Trump seems to have behind most of his actions is to undo or do the opposite of what President Obama had accomplished while in office.