After the US Supreme Court voted to allow President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban to be implemented, trans soldiers are once again speaking out against it.
The court voted 5 to 4 in favour of allowing the partial ban to be implemented, with both of Trump’s appointees – Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – voting in favour.
Trump’s ban would see “transgender persons who require or have undergone gender transition” no longer allowed to serve in the US military, years after former President Barack Obama removed restrictions of trans personnel serving in the country’s armed forces.
The Supreme Court decision does not enforce the ban, which Trump first signed the order to instate in early 2018, but does allow the military to opt to implement it.
It’s estimated that there are around 9000 active duty trans service members in the US, with Trump citing the cost of trans-specific healthcare – around $2.2 million – as well as supposed “disruption” as a reason for the ban.
Some trans troops will be allowed to continue to serve provided they are willing to do so “in their biological sex”.
The White House said allowing trans people to transition and serve openly posed “too great a risk to military effectiveness”.
One transgender former Navy SEAL, Kristin Beck, labelled the decision “bullshit”.
She told Business Insider that the US government had been “intentionally confusing” in its communication around the policy, and challenged the idea that trans soldiers were any less effective in their positions.
“I was a Navy SEAL for 20 years,” Beck said. “I was pretty lethal.”
“Let’s meet face-to-face and you tell me I’m not worthy. Transgender doesn’t matter. Do your service.”
Trans army veteran Charlotte Clymer tweeted her dismay at the decision.
“As a military veteran and transgender American, I am heartbroken,” she said.
“This is a hateful and cowardly policy based on the terrible reasoning of a White House that has spent the past two years constantly seeking to harm transgender people. There is no excuse for this.”
Former Blackhawk helicopter pilot Brynne Tannehill wrote in The New York Times that the decision “probably marks the end of almost 10 years of trying to find a way to serve my country in uniform again.”
Army Captain Jennifer Peace, who features in the upcoming documentary TransMilitary, said in an interview on CNN that the decision to ban trans troops – like past bans on women and gay people serving – only serves to weaken the military.
“There was a time [when] trans people couldn’t serve, but we have moved past that. We’ve said that these people are capable of serving, and it’s obvious that we are because we have been doing so.”
The legal challenge to the ban will continue in the lower courts, but in the meantime the ban has been allowed to go ahead, meaning the issue may not be resolved for years.