Welcome to 2017, when gender discrimination is not just condoned but officially instituted by the White House.
In July, President Trump took to Twitter to announce that transgender people would be barred from serving in the U.S. military “in any capacity,” declaring his intentions to reinstate a ban that was lifted just one year prior.
Democrats and Republicans alike criticized the impulsive, though not uncharacteristic, Tweetstorm, while active-duty trans soldiers worried about losing their jobs, their healthcare, and their homes.
But the White House was tight-lipped about when—and whether—Trump’s iPhone dispatches would actually become policy. Many hoped the announcement would quietly go the way of other unfulfilled promises.
No such luck. Last night, the Wall Street Journal reported that the White House is set to issue guidance to the Pentagon in the coming days giving the military six months to put the new rule into effect. Allegedly included in the memo: The military will stop admitting new trans members and cut off trans-related medical care for those currently serving, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis will be granted the power to discharge trans soldiers if he deems them undeployable.
Here's why this should scare the sh*t out of not just trans military members but every American: In addition to threatening the livelihood of real people—people who volunteered as patriots to protect their country—this policy sends a brazen message that you can lose your job if the White House isn’t a-okay with your identity. And tacked onto that message, a terrifying P.S.: The government won’t hesitate to take away rights it’s already given you.
“At one point, we were encouraging people to come out. Now, these people are in this horribly exposed position,” Brynn Tannehill, a trans former Navy pilot and the director of advocacy for the LGBT military organization SPARTA, wrote in an essay for InStyle last month. “We’ve reached the point where truth, justice, and the American way is not as important as the corporate bottom line.”
But let’s talk about that corporate bottom line for a moment. Trump’s defense for banning transgender soldiers was the “tremendous medical costs” they rack up. How much? $2.4-8.4 million annually, according to a study commissioned by the Department of Defense. That may sound like a lot at first glance, but the armed forces aren’t exactly thrifty. The military’s total annual healthcare budget is $6.27 billion. And do you know how much the military spends treating erectile dysfunction every year? $84 million. TEN TIMES as much as the highest bill it would ever pay toward trans-related treatments. So, awkwardly, it turns out that argument is bogus.
VIDEO: Mika Brzezinski Addresses Donald Trump's Tweets on Morning Jo
This isn’t about money. Plain and simple, it’s about bigotry. The remaining question for President Trump is: Why?