F*cking Hell, Trump Just Signed a Memo Enacting Trans Military Ban

In July, Trump announced (well, tweeted) that “the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military,” citing something clearly baseless about “overwhelming medical costs.” At the time, his announcement was made without the coordination or apparently even the knowledge of the Pentagon; the defense department scrambled to figure out what the President’s plan even meant, let alone whether they could or would execute it.

Today, in the midst of some of the most intense and bipartisan criticism he and his administration have received since the inauguration — after two weeks in which the President has defended violent white supremacists, went on an hours-long unhinged tirade as police tear-gassed protesters outside, and parted ways with his Rasputin-esque white nationalist chief strategist — it was announced that the administration has apparently made it a priority to work with the Pentagon on putting Trump’s plan into action. An official directive was signed by Trump that prohibits transgender people from joining the military, and additionally gives Defense Secretary Mattis a great deal of latitude in terms of deciding the fate of transgender people already enlisted. The directive also apparently cuts off funding coverage for gender confirmation surgery for enlisted troops, except (allegedly) for those cases already in progress. It’s not clear at this juncture what this means for coverage of other transition-related healthcare, or if Trump and writers of the directive are aware of other transition-related care at all.

Within these proposed parameters, what reality will look like for currently enlisted transgender people is extraordinarily unclear. The directive allows for a six-month implementation period; what the end point of that “implementation” will look like is extremely murky, with spokespeople for the administration “unable to answer questions about whether the estimated thousands of transgender service members currently serving would be allowed to remain in the military.” This enormous uncertainty leaves the lives of thousands of people in unbearable flux in terms of their employment, their housing and education, their physical safety in a fraught and fractured political and work environment, and what any possible future might look like.

In July, when this plan was originally floated, Politico speculated that the decisions about trans troops were being made as part of a long-term bargaining session within the Republican party about money:

House Republicans were planning to pass a spending bill stacked with his campaign promises, including money to build his border wall with Mexico. But an internal House Republican fight over transgender troops was threatening to blow up the bill. And House GOP insiders feared they might not have the votes to pass the legislation because defense hawks wanted a ban on Pentagon-funded sex reassignment operations — something GOP leaders wouldn’t give them.

Trump’s plan (or lack thereof) to fund his xenophobic fever dream of a border wall has been one of the many scandals on his plate this week — he has recently alternately offered to fund it via a government shutdown, solar panels, or gutting other government agencies — so that may explain the timeline for this decision. It’s also possible, as it always is with this administration, that they’re totally unrelated and there is no real plan behind the scenes or going forward other than being violent to trans people. The consistency of that inconsistency is of course no comfort to the people whose present and future have been irrevocably impacted by this absurd and vindictive decision; we don’t know precisely what the implementation of this memo will look like, but we can surmise that, like everything else this administration has done, it will be deeply harmful to trans people. As always, the voices and experiences of those most directly impacted should be centered today and in the future; you could start by reading these responses of trans people who have experience with the US military on the ban.

Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

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21 Comments

    • i personally don’t think so, just because there are probably quite a few white gay men with money in the president’s inner circle. but he also has a Jewish son-in-law and daughter and that didn’t stop him from defending Nazis, so who the fuck knows

      • I mean, it seems like he’s just playing Russian Roulette with policy and who he defends at this point.

        Like, “whoops! The board landed on white supremacists, so the violence was from ‘many sides’. And whoop de frickin doo, time to massively screw over trans service members. What fun!”

        • Just wanted to clarify that this comment is not meant to belittle what the trans community is going through, but just to respond to the question of what else might befall other lgbt people. I agree that the systematic violence and oppression of enacted upon trans folk should be our focus right now.

  1. I AM SO ANGRY I COULD SPIT. THIS IS WHY THE TRANS COMMUNITY FEARS FOR THEIR LIVES. THIS IS WHY THEIR SUICIDE RATE IS SO HIGH.

    TO OUR TRANS COMMUNITY: YOU ARE NOT A BURDEN. YOUR MEDICAL COSTS ARE NOT A BURDEN. YOUR FEELINGS, IDENTITY AND EXISTENCE ARE NOT A BURDEN. YOUR STRUGGLES ARE NOT A BURDEN. YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS ARE SO APPRECIATED. YOU HAVE SO MUCH VALUE IN THIS WORLD. WE WOULD NOT BE THE SAME WITHOUT YOU. WE NEED YOU. WE LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU.

  2. It’s somewhat terrible that I’m praying for a military coup, but considering how they’re already ignoring virtually everything Trump says, it’s seeming more and more likely.

    Regardless, it’s fucking ridiculous, and continues to ignore the fact that these are people who are voluntarily going in to war and may lose their lives, and you’re just shitting all over them.

    I’m beginning to think that the crazy racist shit Trump says is just a cover so everyone’s in an uproar over that, and then he and his cabinet can sign into law truly evil acts. (Or maybe not, because I doubt he has the intellectual capacity for that subterfuge.)

    • Steve Banon pretty much said so in the ‘interview’ of his. That as long as the left went after the racists, they would get crushed. I honestly don’t know what to make of all that is happening, from thinking trump could never be president to now fearing his re-election its got me all freaked.

  3. When I read this headline I accidentally kicked a very decent human being and then felt irrationally angry because technically 45’s asine politicking made me apologize for something.

    The rest of the anger was perfectly rational and befitting the level of stupid and cruel.

  4. There has to be a word, likely something in German or Russian, that encapsulates the simultaneous desire to cocoon oneself for protection and reach out and make sure everyone else you know who is likely to be hurt is okay, while also running through backup plans and wondering if we qualify for asylum in *any* other nation yet (bonus points if it conveys that frantic pace that is so readily produced by stress/anxiety).

    If not one word, maybe two.

  5. I’m sitting at work, and I’m fighting keeping it together. I am on the verge of crying, this makes me sick. These men and women risk their lives so Trump and so many Americans can just turn their backs on them. I will stand up for you, I have your backs. And I thank you for all that you do for us.

  6. I can feel all your love. It means so much today; thank you.

    One of my jobs while I transition is working at a call center, where ironically, I listen to many calls about transgender people. Of course I get the disgusting hate calls. But, for every one of those, there are so many others which are supportive, loving, open minded, and compassionate.

    I know sometimes we can wonder if we belong. But there is so much more love out there than we realize.

  7. What would you do if Trump instructed the Pentagon to form a unit of tg troops and then sent them on a “special mission” from which they didn’t return? To me, the tg are infinitely safer in the private sector. A less outrageous scenario: You’re the only tg onboard the USS Warmonger, and one night a bunch of cisgendered cowards toss you overboard with no life ring. Or on a reconnaissance patrol you’re always the one asked to assume the most dangerous point position? Trump may have the good of all concerned when he makes this rule.

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