Close to 1 in 17 of the people living in the US, 6 percent, served in the US Military. An estimated 3 out of 1000 adults in the US are transgender. New research from UCLA says 21 percent of the total transgender population served in the US Military.
The fight for people who identify as transgender seems more of a cha-cha than the rest of their rainbow alphabet friends, LGB and Q. Two steps forward and a step back.
First, in 2013 the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) transgender had been removed from its place as a psychosexual disorder. Second, on June 30, 2016, then President Obama helped facilitate open serve in the military.
"Americans who want to serve and can meet our standards should be afforded the opportunity to compete to do so," Dr. Ash Carter, Secretary of Defense said in delivering the news of his memorandum.
The new directive began, "No otherwise qualified Service member may be involuntarily separated, discharged or denied reenlistment or continuation of service, solely on the basis of their gender identity."
Don’t ask, don’t tell gets repealed, and now anyone can serve their country no matter their gender or sexual preference, things were looking up, until July 2017.
Then, cha-cha, and a step backwards.
Today, President Trump, and his advisors took his tweet, and created a policy where without a “gender dysphoria” diagnosis dated before April 2019, people who identify as transgender will no longer be allowed to serve. As well, the policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is back, but without the shiny quick-worded package.
The Department of Defense reports there are approximately 15,000 troops who identify as transgender serving, currently in the military. Of those 15,000, it is estimated that barely 200 have undergone the correct diagnosis to move forward with their transformative maintenance.
The reasoning behind the re-ban cites the usual iterations of unfounded statements like: “too difficult, can’t get meds while deployed, costs too much, they are too confused, what do I call them,” are some of the complaints the public hears.
The Washington Post reports the military spends five times the amount of money on transgender troops as it does on Viagra and a study by the RAND Corporation found the overall spending of the DoD healthcare costs, could raise as much as .005 to .017 percent following the full integration of transgender servicemembers.
The reality of the situation is troops being deployed generally only need to change their prescription from an injectable hormone, like testosterone, and have it replaced with a patch or gel pack. Soldiers are often deployed with a compliment of supplies from back home before being deployed, transgender or otherwise.
Four hour wait--2 minute ride, is not always Disney Land, and if Viagra can be administered on deployment for a dysfunction at five times the rate, why can’t transgender servicemembers bring their own prescription with them when they are deployed?
With the handful of troops who made it in under the current administration’s deadline to be “grandfathered” under former President Obama’s policy, the military will find out soon enough.
For Specialist Nic Maloney, a combat camera, “the eyes of the army,” he has six years in, with six more to go, and his current duty station will be coming to an end soon. With a 25 Victor next to his name, the Army’s specific designated job identifier, Nic has to be ready at a moment’s notice to move out.
He could be called upon to cover anything from hurricanes or banquets stateside, to a full deployment into a contested combat zone, and anything in between.
“Can you complete the male standards?” Nic’s command asked as his transition began.
Nic described standing at the precipice, apprehensive, but ready to now move forward. Once you step over, there is no coming back.
“The first domino fell,” Nic said. “I've checked every box. I am a man.”