This week, the Trump Administration unleashed a series of policy proposals with the potential to have severe consequences to the health and wellness of people of transgender experience and LGBTQ communities at large.
On Wednesday, President Trump announced via Twitter that he plans to ban transgender people from serving in the military, citing that the US military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender [sic] in the military would entail.”
There are several harmful falsehoods included in this statement. First, there are already thousands of transgender members who are serving and have served in the military. A group commissioned by the Department of Defense estimated there are between 1,320 and 6,630 active-duty transgender transgender people currently in service, while a 2015 study in the The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) put the number closer to 13,000 transgender people and described the costs of transition related care to be ‘negligible.’ Furthermore, the NEJM cited that actual costs might even be lower as transition related care has been proven to improve the health of transgender people that, if left untreated, could impose additional costs and affect job performance. Transition related care is the same as any other medical related cost and should not be treated as a special case. If denied employment in the military, an estimated 13,000 active duty members will face unemployment and loss of benefits including healthcare, that would without doubt harm the already jeopardized health of transgender people in this country.
“The proposal to ban transgender individuals from military service serves to dehumanize our community and further criminalize trans bodies. This is a hugely unjust proposal that stands to harm many thousands of people” said Lanita A. Ward-Jones, Vice-Chair of Callen-Lorde’s Board of Directors.
On the heels of this blow came yet another, as the Justice Department filed a brief stating that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not cover employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. As we know, employment, like housing, is paramount to health and wellness. Rolling back these protections would cause serious harm to lesbian, gay and bisexual communities, who already experience poorer health outcomes due to stigma and discrimination. Lack of employment opportunity is directly related to health, as low-income individuals are less likely to be able to access healthcare and preventive health services which, combined with lack of insurance, could be devastating for the health of our communities.
“The rolling back of basic civil rights protections will further disenfranchise our communities, who already experience unacceptable health disparities and economic inequality” said Laura A. Jacobs, Chair of Callen-Lorde’s Board of Directors.
In spite of these setbacks, just this morning the senate rejected the “skinny repeal” & replace of the Affordable Care Act, which would have increased the amount of uninsured Americans by 15 million. Activism works, and we must not lose steam in the fight for our lives!
Callen-Lorde stands with our communities in these fights. And, we will be here today and tomorrow for our patients – regardless of access to insurance – and our communities, as we have for nearly 50 years.