In this February 25, 2004 file photo, soldiers say goodbye to their families at the National Guard Armory. The 1-168th Infantry Battalion was deployed to active duty in the Middle East. (Nick Loomis/The Daily Iowan)

Webster: Transgender individuals have the right to serve in our military

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By Hannah Webster

hannah-webster@uiowa.edu

President Trump announced his new policy via Twitter on July 26, taking a stance against transgender Americans enlisting in the military. Trump separated his news into three different tweets.

“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 transgenders in the military would entail.”

It was not long for the Twitter-verse to explode.

As a result, “Late Late Show” host James Corden recently honored the LGBTQ troops in a compelling rendition of the song “L-O-V-E.” And as big of a fan as I am of Corden’s work, my admiration for him went through the roof after seeing this performance. Corden’s rendition is truly indescribable and brought tears to my eyes. That we have to worry about trans individuals getting their rights stripped fighting for our country is appalling, but Corden takes this issue and turns it into a monologue honoring and thanking the transgender individuals who have and are willing to serve.

RELATED: Trump’s trans ban draws rebuke

It is refreshing to see someone who has a big following such as Corden stand up for an issue such as this. In the midst of such a discriminating policy, Corden takes this instance and turns it into a way to honor the ones affected by this.

In 2016, the Defense secretary at that time, Ash Carter, began the process of ending the ban on transgender people serving openly in the military. However, this was a lengthy process, and by the time Trump tweeted his ideas on the subject, the ban had yet to be fully lifted.

Trump’s tweets suggest that his intentions for this new policy are tied to health costs. But according to a Rand Corp. study commissioned by the Defense Department in 2016, the number of transgender people in the military was between 1,320 and 6,630, and the cost of gender transition-related surgeries could range from $2.4 million to $8.4 million, amounting to about .0004 percent of the total health-care spending. That’s it?

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said allowing transgender individuals to serve “erodes military readiness and unit cohesion,” that the move is a “military decision” and “not meant to be anything more than that.”

Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., the vice chairman of the congressional LGBTQ caucus, disagreed.

“Anyone who is willing to put on the uniform of the United States and risk their life in service to our country should be celebrated as patriots, regardless of their gender identity,” he said. “This short-sighted and discriminatory policy will make America less safe.”

No doubt about it, if people wish to put their lives on the line protecting the country, they should be able to do so. It should be people’s decision if they want to serve, rather than the government’s.

Similar to Trump’s decision to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the president made up his mind without a plan in place to implement it. As for the fate of transgender individuals who want to serve, there is not a clear path on what will happen. So as Americans, we will take this day-by-day and continue to fight for the right of transgender Americans to serve openly in the military, because everyone deserves the equal opportunity to fight for the home of the brave.

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