BOSTON—The Fenway Institute today denounced a series of tweets by President Trump seeking to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military.
“Thousands of transgender people are either currently serving or have served our country bravely and honorably,” said Sean Cahill, PhD, Director of Health Policy Research at The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health. “It is unfortunate that President Trump is tweeting in a way that will reinforce prejudice and discrimination which affects the health and well-being not just of the patriotic transgender Americans who are serving our country, but all transgender people.”
When strung together, the tweets read: “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 transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”
The RAND Corporation, a non-profit research institution, worked with the Obama-era Department of Defense to analyze the potential effects of the policy that currently permits transgender individuals to serve openly in the military. Their research found that of the 1.3 million active service members, an estimated 1,320-6,630 members are transgender, and only a smaller subset of these members would seek gender transition-related medical treatment. The analysis found that transition-related health care expenditures would represent an “exceedingly small proportion” of total health expenditures, and that there would be little to no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness. As such, the report concluded that the policy to allow transgender people to serve openly in the military would have “minimal impact” on the military in terms of medical costs or unit readiness.
Eighteen other countries allow transgender people to serve in the military, including many close allies of the U.S. such as Canada, Britain, Israel and Australia. The Netherlands has allowed transgender people to serve since 1974.The U.S. Veteran’s Administration has taken many steps in recent years to improve care and services such as counseling related to gender transition, and evaluations for hormone therapy and surgery, for the approximately 5,000 transgender veterans that it serves. An attempt by House lawmakers to prohibit transgender service members from receiving medical care related to treatment for being transgender was defeated earlier this month after Secretary of Defense James Mattis called Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri who sponsored the measure and urged her to withdraw it.
“Research by social scientists and others at The Fenway Institute has demonstrated the negative impacts on health when transgender individuals experience discrimination,” Cahill added. “It is unconscionable to subject anyone, much less members of the country’s armed forces, to this kind of treatment.”
Since 1971, Fenway Health has been working to make life healthier for the people in our neighborhood, the LGBT community, people living with HIV/AIDS and the broader population. The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health is an interdisciplinary center for research, training, education and policy development focusing on national and international health issues. Fenway’s Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center cares for youth and young adults ages 12 to 29 who may not feel comfortable going anywhere else, including those who are LGBT or just figuring things out; homeless; struggling with substance use; or living with HIV/AIDS. In 2013, AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts joined the Fenway Health family, allowing both organizations to improve delivery of care and services across the state and beyond.