Military

Amid Legal Challenges, Trump Administration Implements Transgender Military Ban

The Supreme Court allowed the policy to move forward, but the fight is far from over.

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It has been two years since President Donald Trump abruptly announced in a tweet that he was going to implement a ban on transgender people serving openly in the military. This came out of the blue, and it caught many people (including military leaders) by surprise.

Today the policy is being launched, even though several legal challenges to it remain unresolved.

The ban itself is a stranger variation of the old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that allowed gay troops to serve as long as they remained in the closet. Transgender people may join and continue to serve in the military as long as they present themselves as their biological sex and do not have a history of diagnosis with gender dysphoria. Transgender troops currently in the military are going to be allowed to stay, even if they receive transgender-related medical treatment (which the military will not pay for).

It's a bizarre compromise probably intended to counter one of the legal arguments presented by challengers to the ban: that it violates the Fifth Amendment due process rights of transgender troops already serving. The military under President Barack Obama implemented a plan to allow transgender people to serve openly in the military. Changing the rules and booting them once they've started outing themselves would be a problem.

Several federal courts determined that these lawsuits had merit and blocked the administration from implementing its plans. The Trump administration went to the Supreme Court to get the injunction lifted. In January, the justices sided 5–4 with the administration and allowed the plan to move forward.

To be clear, this doesn't mean the Trump has won this fight. The legal fights haven't ended; the Supreme Court decision just allows Trump to implement this policy while the challenges continue. Openly transgender troops within the military may continue to serve. Those who want to join or those who have joined but have not come out as transgender have to continue presenting as their biological sex.

Opponents of the policy argue that there's no evidence that allowing transgender troops to serve openly is causing any problems to troop morale or readiness.

Diane Mazur of the Palm Center, which studies LGBT military policies, worries that despite what the White House claims in its memo, the underlying service guidelines actually will allow the military to dump transgender members in active service. Mazur notes in Politico that commanders have the

authority to order a mental-health evaluation if they suspect a member is gender dysphoric. Continued service would then depend on whether military authorities believe that an individual is "unable or unwilling" to adhere to standards based on birth sex. Fitness for duty is irrelevant.

In practical terms, this means that if you're serving in uniform and it becomes known that you are transgender, your commander has authority to start a process that can end in your dismissal. It's out of your control. Hiding your identity—rather than serving openly as who you are—is the only safe option.

So the whole thing is a big mess. If an active member of the military is booted for being transgender, that's certain to launch even more lawsuits. And if transgender troops aren't booted, that's essentially evidence that the policy itself is unneeded and doesn't serve a real purpose other than to discriminate.

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98 responses to “Amid Legal Challenges, Trump Administration Implements Transgender Military Ban

  1. I’m fine with this; transgenderism is a confusion about what is real and what is fantasy. In general, I have no problem with that; I have some of the same issues. But I wouldn’t trust ME around military ordinance either.

    1. Catholic’s have the same issue. They believe a priest can same some words and bread becomes flesh. I say this as ex Catholic not to deride the faith but to point out that all/most humans beleive something that isn’t based in reality. And so your policy will need work because we won’t have any soliders.

      1. Wingnuts prefer superstition to reason, backwardness to progress, dogma to science, ignorance to education, bigotry to tolerance. With that understanding, you’ll understand why stale-thinking Catholics win and gays (let alone transgenders) lose whenever right-wingers call the shots.

        Fortunately, over time the right-wingers lose all of the cultural battles in America.

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        1. The spambot’s still more on point than Kirkland.

    2. I just wonder how well a transgender can focus on the job rather his/her/xer personal issues. When you’re part of the crew of a warship you kind of have to pay attention to what you’re doing, since you may be dealing with high voltage electronic systems, superheated high pressure steam in the engine room, things that go “boom”, etc.

      1. So you don’t trust dangerous tasks to anyone who might have something else on their mind? Better start chucking divorced people out of the military as well.

        1. Maybe your service in the military was different from mine. But when I was in, anybody who was too distracted to do his job–for whatever reason–was dealt with. This was in the weird old days, when endangering the lives of others was still frowned upon.

          1. So you’d be OK with throwing out divorced people? I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just curious who you wouldn’t allow besides trannies.

            1. Anybody who can’t do the job. Why is this so fucking hard for some people?

              The decision shouldn’t be made based on divorced, transgender, or whatever. But on the other hand if the person can’t do the job then that person being transgender shouldn’t be an obstacle to reassigning them or discharging them.

              1. Why is this so fucking hard for some people?

                It’s a question, dude. You don’t need to get your jumper in a bunch.

                The decision shouldn’t be made based on divorced, transgender, or whatever.

                That’s all I’m asking you, where would you draw the line. If you would exclude anyone you deemed mentally unfit regardless of the reason why, it seems like a reasonable decision. Then the question is what do you do with people who change after enlistment? Bench them until they’re better or kick them out?

                1. It depends on the issue and how likely recovery is.

                  When I was in boot camp, a guy was kicked out before we graduated because he would always fold under stress. In firefighting training he would panic, drop the hose, and run. At night he would wet his bed. That’s just not gonna work.

                2. He answered your question SparkY and your diaper got all bunched up.

          2. See that should be the policy. If trans and can do the job, good for you (see Kristen Beck), if not goodbye – discharged as unfit for military service like one of my favorite people Jerry Garcia who was not trans but also shouldn’t have been in the military.

            1. Exactly. Some people are simply not cut out for military service. It doesn’t make them bad people; it just means they need to do something else.

            2. That seems to me like a reasonable way to do it.

          3. It’s like people forget what the military is actually for and instead want to use it for social experimentation.

            1. +10

        2. Well, there’s this; any trans persons joining the military right now are likely to be Making A Point. Such persons aren’t focused on their jobs, except as a Political Statement. Soldiers aren’t supposed to be following their own agendas.

          *shrug*

          IF (and it’s a big if) wee could institute a “If your sexuality becomes an issue on Duty or at any time while on Deployment, you’re out” ploy…and be allowed to enforce it by the kind of people who think of the Military as a Social Experiment…we could allow just about anything in.

        3. Divorcees aren’t necessarily mentally ill, sometimes it’s the most rational decision they ever made. However if it becomes a mental health issue, then yeah, pull them.
          Transgender (unless they’re perverts and fetishists LARPing) are mentally ill. If a human male actually believes he’s a woman, a house cat or a 1977 Trans Am trapped in the wrong body, he needs to see a psychiatrist, not have his delusions indulged.

    3. Not all transgender people are confused though. I understand the concern over gender dysphoria and other issues that may arise during someone’s transition, but whether those people are fit to serve is something that should be determined on a case-by-case basis, same as the military already does for soldiers before deploying them

      1. “Not all transgender people are confused though.”

        ORLY?

      2. In an ideal world, I would agree with you. In an ideal world, the Military could downcheck somebody simply because they were a lazy sod, without having activists of his (her/its) ethnicity, gender, etc. screaming bloody murder. Of course the military isn’t free of actual bigots in positions of authority, so the activists have a history of misuse of authority to post to.

  2. Why exactly does the military need to be staffed by people who are loudly and proudly mentally ill?

    1. If I could choose who could get weapons to go kill “bad guys”, I’d definitely choose psychopaths.

      1. Psychopathy is not a DSM diagnosis.

        1. (that’s an observation, not an argument – draw your own conclusions.)

        2. Well now I don’t feel so bad.

          1. And you know that matters to everyone here!

        3. Well not under that name. It is an antiquated term which has been replaced by sociopathy or antisocial personality disorder in the DSM. But same concept: not having remorse, empathy, a “normal” conscience and all that.

          1. In psychiatry sociopathy and psychopathy are not remotely the same thing, and sociopaths do feel and understand both guilt and fear..

            1. And in the DSM it is important to remember that these types only get tagged with personality disorder when the behaviors are causing them a problem.

              1. there are plenty of high functioning and relatively benign psychopaths among stressful professions like surgeons, fighter pilots, and corporate executives.

              2. That’s right?if your behavior is a nightmare for OTHER people but you are untroubled by it and happy with yourself, then you do not fit the definition of being mentally ill.

      2. That’s only because you’ve never actually served in combat. If you had, you’d know that’s exactly the last thing you’d want.

        1. Amen to that.

        2. I’m also fine with letting anyone who wants to pick up a gun and kill dirty foreigners on my behalf do it.

    2. They’ll exclude you for diabetes, or even color blindness. Mental illness would seem an entirely acceptable concern regarding qualification for enlistment or continued service.

      1. Really?

        That is so unfair.

        Give me one good reason why the courts shouls npt strike down these bans.

        1. Because “fairness” is not the primary, secondary, or tertiary mission of the United States Military.

          1. Or, more properly, because SCOTUS has recognized that the current CIC has determined that “fairness” is not the primary, secondary, or tertiary mission of the United States Military.

            Different CIC, different priorities.

          2. +100

        2. Actually, if you are receiving treatment, or need treatment, for any number of mental issues then the military generally bars you from service.

    3. Because those jobs offer a pretty nice revenue stream in some cases? Would be an interesting report on number of LGBT as enlisted vs officers.

    4. As a former Army Officer, I must say I disagree with President Trump’s ban on transsexuals in the military.
      The problem is not that they are in the military, the problem is that they are in units with normal people.
      We should allow them to serve, place them in their own separate combat units, and let them go fight.
      No sense getting normal guys killed all the time.

    5. Because it’s hard to get sane people to do the things a military needs to do.

      There’s a reason the most elite military units have astronomically high divorce rates.

      1. It could be the travel and deployment requirements.

        That and with women in the military, its a fuck fest.

        Married women at home dont stand a chance.

    6. Well, the Progressive Left consider anybody who wants to be a soldier mentally ill, so that’s an argument that won’t get a lot of traction with them. Of course, if you join a Jihadist Military, that’s something else again…the Left are nothing if not consistently inconsistent.

  3. Funny how no one whines about keeping out people with asthma and flat feet.

    1. Or just fatties. Fatties cannot serve. But dudes who THINK they’re women — they are VITAL to the mission.

      1. All of these groups are bring unfairly excluded.

        1. How? Being in the military requires certain physical and mental health to be effective. It is a matter of life and death, literally.

          1. Fat lesbians can stop a bullet as well as a normal man.
            Put them in their own separate unit and send them into battle.
            No sense getting normal men killed all the time.

    2. Because those are physical ailments that prevent you from doing some activities?

      1. Someone in transition is an absolute drag on unit readiness, cohesion, and morale. That person will be put on limited duty while doing the drug therapy and surgeries. It might take two years. The other people in the unit will have to pick up the slack, which is a real bitch when you’re already undermanned as most units are.

        As a flyer, when someone went long-term DNIF (duties not to include flight) we had to fly more, deploy more often, and generally act as if the DNIF person wasn’t even in the unit because they couldn’t do their primary job.

        Let trans serve AFTER they transition.

        1. Someone in transition is an absolute drag on unit readiness, cohesion, and morale.

          The article I just read says you’re wrong.

          Let trans serve AFTER they transition.

          And then it will be OK with you if they’re open about it?

          1. They are non-deployable. This is a major drag. It means someone else has to be deployed in their place.

            1. They are non-deployable.

              At all ever?

              1. During treatment, up to two years, an enlistment is standard of four years, but some can be as short as two years. So yes, conceivably forever or at least half of a standard enlistment.

              2. The “ban” is not a “ban on being trans”.

                It’s a ban on actively transitioning while in service.

                Does that make things clearer?

                (That even Reason insists on pretending it’s a “ban on transgender people” is pathetic, but expected.)

          2. Real life experience with people who are long-term non-deployable trumps an article by someone with none.

            I’ve had to deal with people on long-term profiles several times. It sucks for everyone.

          3. Define what you mean by ‘transition.’

            Because a large portion never have surgery.

            1. So no surgery and no hormones but chooses to identify as female despite being fully biological male. Do they get to then only pass the far less strenuous physical fitness standards for females? If so, considering how important physical fitness standards are for schools and promotions, is it fair that on average they will score far greater than a biological female? And thus qualify for promotion and schools before biological females? Promotions and school slots are a a zero sum game.

              1. Well, I didn’t say no hormones, but I’m not as well versed in the exact numbers there. Most of what I know comes from a friend who is a psychiatrist active in this part of the field.

              2. Since all of this is supposedly “fluid” can I identify as female only on the day of the PT test?

  4. The ban itself is a stranger variation of the old “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that allowed gay troops to serve as long as they remained in the closet.

    “If you have a penis, you’re a dude and your feelings don’t change that” hardly seems odd or strange. Seems like, you know, common sense.

    Reason — supporting increasing government spending as long as they like the people it is being spent on.

    Opponents of the policy argue that there’s no evidence that allowing transgender troops to serve openly is causing any problems to troop morale or readiness.

    “Activists say it is totes cool” isn’t evidence that it is cool.

    It’s out of your control. Hiding your identity?rather than serving openly as who you are?is the only safe option.

    It is 100% in your control. Keep your crazy quiet.

    1. Yeah, the military has no interest in 99.9% of all servicepeople ‘openly serving as who they are.’

      Be on time and be the part. That’s what they want.

  5. This is one of the dumbest ‘controversies’ of all.

    “Hey I’m actually woman, in my heart you know? Can I bunk with the girls now? Take showers together?”

    “No”

    OpPREssIOn!

  6. they aren’t actually banning transgenders from the military for BEING transgender. You can play dress up whenever you want on your own time and still be a soldier.

    They just aren’t going to pretend with you that you’re the opposite sex and all their rules and procedures that depend on sex will apply to you whether or not you wear a dress on the weekends.

  7. Mental illness is a relative term. I’ve met some (lots of) fundamentalist Christians who are mentally ill in my book. But because their delusions are widely accepted nobody considers them ill. Until gender dysphoria is widely accepted by the populous as a whole, we’re going to have these kinds of debates. In other words I think the fight for transgendered rights needs to mature in the wider culture before trying to shoehorn it into one of our most conservative institutions.

    1. I wonder if you’d consider me mentally ill? Why did you think they were mentally ill?

      Is it a delusion to think you might live in a computer simulation (Elon Musk)? Is it a delusion to believe in aliens (lots and lots of people, including smart and educated people)?

      Or does everyone need to come to the same conclusions you do?

      1. That’s my point. It’s relative. You may not think that conversing with an invisible power is strange. You may not think that speaking tongues is a delusion. You may not think that ritualistically consuming the blood and body of your messiah is as disturbing as it sounds to me. That’s because most of our culture has bought into those delusions and accepts them as normal. Gender dysphoria, another delusion, has a way to go before it’s “normal”.

        I really don’t mean to judge btw. I’m just pointing out that one person’s reality is another’s delusion.

        1. “You may not think that ritualistically consuming the blood and body of your messiah is as disturbing as it sounds to me.”

          I do it symbolically, if that helps.

          “You may not think that speaking tongues is a delusion.”

          Actually speaking another language would be cool, but I’ve never heard it. The only references I can think of are Biblical, and I won’t bring those up for obvious reasons.

          “You may not think that conversing with an invisible power is strange.”

          Not any more weird than talking into a flip phone would be to a person from the 1700s.

          “That’s because most of our culture has bought into those delusions and accepts them as normal.”

          That’s “begging the question”. You assume it’s a delusion and then “prove” it.

          “I’m just pointing out that one person’s reality is another’s delusion.”

          That we can agree on. That being said, there is objective truth, it’s just that it’s often hard to pin down.

          1. “Not any more weird than talking into a flip phone would be to a person from the 1700s.”

            One nit to pick here would be that the 1700s person could objectively confirm that you were talking to someone else. Or at least that there was a “voice” on the line. Prayer, or divine conversation cannot be proven/disproven via scientific method.

            1. Sure, then it’s like talking to a Bluetooth headset you won’t let others touch. Or an intercranial implant.

              1. Or like leaving a message on an answering machine.

                1. Your analogies only make sense if you assume that the only thing stopping folk from hearing back when they pray is a lack of technology.

                  1. I’m sorry, do you think so lowly of God that you think he’ll come running when you call? Do you control him?

                    If God exists, he’ll answer when he wants and how he wants.

                  2. Your analogies only make sense if you assume that the only thing stopping folk from hearing back when they pray is a lack of technology.

                    It is.

    2. You’re confusing belief with delusion. A belief is a way of thinking. A delusion is a pathology of perception. You can believe God is there, and that he hears and responds to your prayers, but if you actually SEE God and actually HEAR his voice when you pray, then there’s a problem.

  8. I’m only 18, got a ruptured spleen, and I always carry a purse…

    What? That’s not a disqualifier anymore?

    1. It really wouldn’t interest anybody outside of a small circle of friends.

      1. +1

    2. Splenectomy is due to the massively greater risk of infection, but ruptured spleens can heal and return to normal function.

  9. Shucks, Reagan, Bush and Biden suddenly announced that all federal narcs, bureaucrats and seat-warmers had to pee into a Dixie cup or be fired. The reason? The exact same pseudoscientific superstition obloquiously opposed by every Libertarian Party platform since 1972. Plant leaves, 97% of government-licensed physicians assure politicians, are the avatars of Satan and their possession is the same thing as Demonic Possession. Everyone thus fired was quickly replaced with faith-based boobs, eager for forcible forfeiture no matter what the cost in economic collapse and depression. This latest affront to the LP platform is small potatoes by comparison.

  10. Hiding your identity?rather than serving openly as who you are?is the only safe option.

    That sounds bad, until you realize that their identity is completely wrapped up in things that range from irrelevant to detrimental to serving in the military. Cisgendered people also have to conform while serving, why should trans get special treatment? If your trans identity is really “innate” but you also want to be a soldier, then you should be able to know who you are inside without the things that make you bad at being a soldier. If you can’t, then your identity is BS.

  11. This, like many other social issues, wouldn’t have to be a problem if people could remember that the primary mission of the military is NOT to be a nursery for “social justice”. Then those serving could be judged solely on performance. Alas, it doesn’t work that way in the real world. Discharging someone in a protected group or not having enough of them in the “cool” jobs is a great way to destroy a military career.

    1. Correct.

      Like prior declarations that our military must be straight, declarations that our military must be cisgender are distracting social issues that should not make their way into policy.

  12. Transgender people may join and continue to serve in the military as long as they present themselves as their biological sex and do not have a history of diagnosis with gender dysphoria.

    If someone presents as their actual sex and does not suffer gender dysphoria, then in what way are they “transgender”?

    1. Undiagnosed dysphorics can serve if they keep their issues to themselves.

      1. Being transgender and being diagnosed with gender dysphoria are not the same thing. Per the DSM-5 (and the new DoD) policy, you can be transgender but not have gender dysphoria. Under the DSM-5 a transgender person should not be diagnosed as gender dysphoric unless they also experience clinically significant distress or impairment.

        Further, the new policy does not require transgender recruits or current or future transgender military personnel to “keep their issue to themselves”. The new DoD policy only prohibits transgender people from transitioning surgically, hormonally, or otherwise, while in service and excludes recruits who have already transitioned or been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Also, current military personnel diagnosed with gender dysphoria after the new policy was implemented would also be subject to separation.

  13. Continued service would then depend on whether military authorities believe that an individual is “unable or unwilling” to adhere to standards based on birth sex. Fitness for duty is irrelevant.

    Being willing and able to adhere to standards is not part of fitness for duty?

    1. A person being willing and able to adhere to standards is not the same as whether any given authority believes that person is willing and able to adhere to standards.

      It takes it out of the hands of the individual and puts it into the perceptions of someone else who would only be initiating the investigation if they have an axe to grind to start with.

      1. No, it’s in the hands of the individual to adhere to the standards.

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  15. No surprise at all to see commenters on a libertarian website give a thumbs-up to governmental regulation of gender expression.

    If someone’s gender dysphoria causes them to be mentally unfit for battle, if it’s an undue distraction from their primary duties, etc., then there is some reason other than their dysphoria to disqualify them from service. The transgender ban is just about one feature of these individuals that is treated, without any legitimate or defensible basis, as a disqualifying feature.

    And you can try to hand-wave that away as just a “crazy person’s problem,” but the fact is – and we see this every time the government empowers itself to regulate our lives on a personal level – this goes far beyond whether someone feels like they were born into the “right” body. The transgender ban becomes a hook to cast out any LGB person, it becomes a means to settle personal vendettas, it enables abuse and harassment of those transgendered people who might still remain in the military. It becomes, in short, a means of government-sponsored abuse.

    “We’re fine with it,” the Reason commentariat announces.

    1. You miss the point. Nowhere is the military banning gender expression. In your spare time, you can be corporal Klinger and wear a dress and makeup. But you join as your biological sex, which is the only objective standard.

  16. This is really easy.

    You don’t have a right to join the military.

    That’s it. That’s all. End of story.

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