ATLANTA - Transgender military veterans say President Donald Trump’s latest policy isn’t in line with reality.
Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that transgender people will be barred from serving in the U.S. military.
Current Department of Defense policy allows for transgender service members to serve openly and says, “They can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military solely for being transgender individuals.”
Following the president’s announcement, some people are wondering what will happen to transgender military members who are openly serving now.
“First of all trans people have served in the military since day one, since the Revolutionary War,” said Monica Helms, founder of the National Transgender Veteran Association.
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Helms is transgender and a decorated Navy veteran. She had some advice for service members whose futures are uncertain:
“Keep hope because Trump isn’t going to be president forever. You will get back in the military if you want to,” she said.
The Rand Corporation, which has provided research at the Defense Department’s request in 2016, estimates up to nearly 7,000 active-duty transgender service members and about 1,500 more in the reserves.
“They were trained just like everybody else. Just because they’re trans doesn’t mean they can’t do the job anymore,” Helms said.
The president said the decision boiled down to a cost and effectiveness issue, citing medical costs and the issue of “disruption.”
The Rand Corporation study estimates that less than a tenth of the force would seek transition-related care with an openly trans policy. The research cited minimal health care costs and impact to service readiness. The study’s final recommendation was to implement policy to successfully integrate openly serving transgender service members in the force.
“They have put their lives on the line. They are currently serving in the military. They are supporting all of the policies of the administration, whether the administration supports them or not,” said Amanda Hill-Attkisson, executive director of Georgia Equality. “They are being misrepresented. They are being lied about.”
Neither the White House nor the Pentagon have provided any details on the policy change.
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