Trump announced the transgender ban in July 2017. On April 12, 2019, the Trump administration banned transgender individuals from serving openly in the military. The Pentagon argues the policy is not a ban since it allows for waivers and because those who came out under the Obama administration’s policy, which allowed open transgender service, can continue serving openly.
More than 100 Democratic House lawmakers sent a letter Wednesday to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Attorney General William Barr to call for the elimination of the ban on open transgender military service. This follows the June 15, 2020 Supreme Court ruling that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ people from workplace discrimination. Congresswoman Suzan DelBene spearheaded the initiative, New Civil Rights Movement wrote.
"On April 12, 2019, the Trump administration’s policy banning transgender persons from serving openly in the military went into effect. This policy denies transgender people the ability to enlist in the military and puts transgender troops at risk of being discharged for living openly and authentically. The Trump Administration’s Ban was implemented against the recommendations of several former Surgeons General and against a wide array of military experts. Additionally, the country’s preeminent health care organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association, have all issued statements affirming that transgender people can competently serve in the military," is written in a letter.
Three years after the Obama administration told transgender individuals they could serve openly and have access to gender-affirming medical and psychological care, the Trump administration has reversed course. In 2019, the Pentagon began to implement a controversial new policy that critics say is essentially a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for trans service members, according to NBC News.
Trump announced the transgender ban in July 2017 via tweet, writing the military needed to focus on "decisive and overwhelming victory" without being burdened by the "tremendous medical costs and disruption" of having transgender personnel. His sudden policy reversal surprised top military leaders. The Trump administration's policy is not a blanket ban on transgender service; however, advocates contend it is effectively a ban on new transgender recruits. The new rules, which went into effect last year, require troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria serve in their biological sex. It also bars people with a history of gender dysphoria from joining the military unless they have been "medically stable" in their biological sex for 36 months and have not transitioned. A 2018 Pentagon review on the matter stated limiting transgender service is needed amid mental health concerns unique to gender dysphoria compounding with the stresses service members face. Young, transgender people are at a much higher risk of suicide, risky sexual behavior and drug use, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A 2019 CDC study found 34.6% of high school transgender students attempted suicide, Military.com wrote.
Last month, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which forbids employment discrimination on the basis of "sex," applies to LGBT people. The ruling did not apply to the military, which courts have previously ruled is exempt from Title VII. But opponents of the Trump administration’s transgender military ban are hopeful it gives them new ammunition in their lawsuits. The policy, which took effect in April 2019, says transgender people must serve as their biological sex or else get a waiver. The military has granted only one such waiver so far. The Pentagon argues the policy is not a ban since it allows for waivers and because those who came out under the Obama administration’s policy, which allowed open transgender service, can continue serving openly, according to The Hill.