Transgender individuals in the military: a new pawn in Trump’s divisive politics

On Wednesday, Trump made a shock announcement that the U.S. military would now no longer allow transgender individuals from serving in the military. Announced via twitter, the President cited “tremendous medical costs and disruption to the military” as reasons behind the decisions, thereby reversing the Pentagon’s lift of the ban in 2016 for transgender individuals to openly serve in the military.


Yet whilst taking many by surprise, the administration was already moving against the 2016 decision. Earlier this month, the Pentagon announced that Defense Secretary James Mattis had delayed allowing transgender individuals from entering the military until January 2018, at the earliest to allow for further review.


But by turning to twitter to make the announcement, Trump has made transgender individuals a pawn in his political games. Rather than sticking to the conventional means of the Pentagon to officially make the announcement, which as a separate point would have given the department greater time to prepare their response rather than be on the back foot, Trump has used his personal platform to make the announcement. It is the same platform that he has continually used to voice his opinions and slam his opponents, in tweets deliberately crafted to be divisive, and crucially, shared widely.


By using this platform, Trump is able to temporarily shift attention away from the intense pressure and public scrutiny on the now on President. Trump is in dire need of this distraction – the investigation into Russian involvement in the U.S. election is  now underway and his son-in-law and Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner is testifying before the House Intelligence Committee this week.


On top of that, despite holding majorities in both the House and the Senate, the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare was also shutdown on Tuesday, a key promise of the Trump campaign. And if that wasn’t enough, it appears increasingly likely that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will join Sean Spicer in not making it past the 6 month mark, on account of Session’s decision to recuse himself and to not fire Robert Mueller.


Although the style of the tweet was more measured and did not contain any of his typical angry  viterol, using twitter as the initial means of communicating the policy is deeply flawed.


The utter lack of detail that it affords in its 140 character limit means that the reasons cited, medical costs and disruption, are extremely vague. This evident lack of thought or consultation shows Trump, unsurprisingly, to be a president deeply out of touch with the transgender community, as the thousands of transgender individuals currently serving in the military will now be at a loss of what to do. Moreover, by removing those affected from the debate, it demonstrates a total lack of interest or respect for the ongoing difficulties and discrimination transgender individuals face.


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