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Making sense of President Trump’s tweets banning transgender people from serving in U.S. military

Capt. Jennifer Peace discusses some of her experiences as a transgender JBLM soldier. Video by Drew Perine.
Capt. Jennifer Peace discusses some of her experiences as a transgender JBLM soldier. Video by Drew Perine.
Tacoma News Tribune (via YouTube)

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In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump said this morning that the U.S. government “will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” adding that the armed forces can’t be burdened with the costs and disruption it would entail.

It remains unclear what the immediate impact will be or how the Commander in Chief plans to put the ban in place. Researchers at RAND Corporation said in a study last year that there are anywhere from 1,320 to 6,630 transgender service members, a relatively small portion of the approximately 1.3 million active duty members. The same study said that trans people serving openly would only minimally impact the military budget, estimating health care costs would increase by 0.04-0.13 percent as a result.

The Pentagon is referring all questions back to the White House, but did say Wednesday that it would defer enlistments of transgender recruits. The Pentagon is currently working on a study of the impact of transgender people in the military, but not through the scope of preventing them from serving.

The ban comes almost a year after the Pentagon officially lifted its ban on transgender people serving in the military, though Secretary of Defense James Mattis said in June of this year that the Department of Defense would delay its decision on whether to let transgender recruits join up.

What do we know about what this means for trans people already openly serving? How will the president implement this ban?

For more on this story from NPR, click here.


Tara Copp, Pentagon reporter for Military Times and author of 'The Warbird' (Squadron Books, 2017)

Radha Iyengar, senior economist at the RAND Corporation think tank; she is one of the lead researchers on the 2016 study “Assessing the Implications of Allowing Transgender Personnel to Serve Openly

Alex Wagner, a fellow at the Truman National Security Project, a national security think tank, and adjunct professor at Georgetown Law; former Chief of Staff to Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning; in a previous posting in the Pentagon’s policy shop, he worked on issues at the intersection between law, policy, tech, and human rights