Donald Trump bans transgender individuals from serving in U.S. military

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The White House said retaining troops with a history or diagnosis of "gender dysphoria" - those who may require substantial medical treatment - "presents considerable risk to military effectiveness and lethality".

According to Defense Department memorandum, the new policy will allow some transgender members to serve while barring any who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria or undergone a gender transition, and are willing to serve in their biological sex. Now, Trump has announced a revised policy that comes from the Pentagon: Transgender troops will be allowed to serve in the military, but they'll be required to serve according to the sex they were assigned at birth, not the gender they identify with.

Trump sought input from the military on the matter - or at least pretended to. I am grateful for that small victory of due process, and relieved that they won't lose their livelihoods and their access to medical care.

Mr Trump signed a memorandum in August that effectively barred transgender people from the armed forces, but it was blocked in court two months later.

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The decision revokes a full ban that Trump issued last summer but disqualifies USA troops who have had gender reassignment surgery, as recommended by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Indeed, a spokesman confirmed in late February that "an openly transgender recruit has enlisted for the first time in the United States", made possible by the court's decision.

As with Trump's various iterations of the Muslim ban, this new-and-improved version of the ban on transgender servicepeople is likely meant to stave off or address the current court challenges to the existing policy.

Mattis's claims are contradicted by numerous studies, including a 2016 report by the RAND Corporation which found that transgender service members-estimated to be 2,000 to 11,000 of the Americans who serve in the military-have had "little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness or readiness".

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But a 2016 RAND study showed that the true medical costs for transgender military members is only a miniscule portion of the entire Defense Department's annual health care expenditures - so small that Donald Trump could save enough to cover the entire annual cost if he would skip just one of his almost weekly visits to his luxury Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. "This is still a policy in search of a problem", said Natalie Nardecchia, a senior attorney with Lambda Legal.

Jennifer Levi, the Glad transgender rights project director, told the Guardian: "It's extremely disappointing to see these gross misstatements about transgender people's ability to serve, particularly given the thousands of people who have been serving for decades, including in high positions of responsibility". So does the panel he set up to consider the issue of military service by transgender individuals.

Many members of Congress also spoke out against the ban, including veteran Tammy Duckworth.

But rather than addressing that narrow issue, Trump opted to upend the entire policy on transgender service members. It is now sitting with the Senate's Committee on Armed Services, so if one of your senators is on that committee, you should give them a call to ask what exactly they're waiting for.

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