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Military & Veterans' Issues

LGBT Community Reels After Trump's Ban On Transgender Military Service

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 President Donald Trump announced on social media Wednesday that he will ban transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military. That decision is already affecting the LGBT population in San Antonio. 

In an early-morning tweet, Trump claimed that he did not want the military to be "burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption" associated with transgender personnel.  

Trump's decision comes just one day before an Obama-era deadline requiring the military to update its medical standards to accommodate transgender service members.  Transgender military personnel have been allowed to openly identify since last year.

Naomi Brown is a social worker and educator at PRIDE San Antonio. She says she works with many trans military personnel and veterans in need of support. Most of them wait until after they've finished military service to begin gender reassignment.

"The number is so high for veterans who transition when they come out because of the discrimination of transitioning while you're in. And now it's become three times worse," Brown says. "So you wait to be who you are."

Earlier this month, Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler of Missouri offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. It would have ended the Pentagon's policy of providing funds for gender-reassignment surgeries and therapies. That amendment was voted down in the House. 

Matt Thorn is the director of Outserve, a legal defense network for LGBT service members based in Washington, DC. 

"I mean, we pay for healthcare for all of our service members, not just trans service members. We pay to have them moved across the country. I mean, the taxpayers fund the department of Defense $ 656 billion per year. The cost for trans service members is negligible compared to that."

A Department of Defense-commissioned study by the Rand Corporation estimates that gender-transition related treatments would cost the military between $2.4 and and $8.4 million each year. 

Thorn warns that the President's social media statements about banning transgender military members aren't policy. But he says that Outserve will fight back in court if the ban takes a new form. 

Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro came out in opposition to Trump's announcement, calling it "gratuitously discriminatory and damaging to our national security."
Castro says he's grateful to all service members, and that the military needs every patriotic person who is willing to serve.