The cynical abruptness with which Donald Trump reversed an Obama administration decision to make the US armed forces more inclusive is being seen as a brazen attempt to paper over the scandals his regime is facing on Russian links. Mr Trump’s fiat by Twitter that transgenders may not serve in any capacity surprised many in his own administration too. Mr Trump’s assertion that the US “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail”, is specious. In a $790 billion defence and security budget, only about an additional $4 to $8 million a year may have to be spent on gender transition, psychological counselling and hormone treatment of transgenders.
There could be anywhere between 2,000 and 15,000 transgenders among the 1.4 million men serving the armed forces and their fate is uncertain now. It would probably do no good reminding Mr Trump that he had projected himself as a friend of the LGBTQ community when he needed their votes. Coming from one who had a one-year medical deferment from the draft in his youth in the days of the Vietnam War, this must seem like extreme cruelty to a community who feel they are not any less from “straight” humans in terms of fighting capability. In not discriminating against a person on the basis of his/her sexual orientation, the US has always been looked up to as a country that has been seen to do the right thing. Such a decision will be a a setback to its image.