“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.” Recently, U.S. President Trump took to Twitter to issue a ban on transgender people serving in the military—an announcement that has murky legal standing, says Northeastern University’s law professor Libby Adler.
The tweets cite prohibitively-expensive medical costs for transgender people in the military. Two scholars of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies—assistant professor Moya Bailey and professor Suzanna Danuta Walters—said however, that the argument that medical care related to gender identity is more expensive than other medical care is more the result of misunderstanding trans issues than real costs. Bailey opined “People have a false understanding of who trans people are. This idea that they’re threats, that their confirmation surgeries are costing taxpayers so much money and it doesn’t address the real issue of how trans people are perceived. Walters also feels that, “There’s just no evidence that medical expenses for trans people are greater than any other medical expenses, that’s a complete red herring.”
The legal implications of these tweets, meanwhile, depend on how they’re interpreted by the Department of Defense, Adler said. She expresses, “I’m not sure anyone knows yet, what the legal impact of his tweets are” referring to Trump. She added, “I’m not sure how you constitutionally contend with a tweet.” Whether or not this will be interpreted by government officials as a policy memorandum remains to be seen. “My instinct is that if the DoD implements this, it’s a policy.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders also told reporters that she could not say what the impact might be on transgender people currently serving in the military. However, Adler is adamant while claiming that “It’s a real bait and switch to tell people, ‘Go ahead and come out,’ then once they’ve done that, realise they’ve revealed themselves to a hostile authority,”