During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised that he would be an ally to the LGBTQ community. "Thank you to the LGBT community!" he tweeted in June 2016. "I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs." One month later, he doubled down on this vow at the Republican National Convention: "As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology," he stated.
In October 2016, Trump even held up a rainbow flag at a campaign event in Greeley, Colorado. However, while the handwriting was right side up, the rainbow flag was upside down. (The bottom stripe is purple, symbolizing spirit, while the top stripe is red, symbolizing life.) That means whoever scribbled on the flag must not have been that familiar with it. Also, it was strange that they wrote "LGBTs," with an "s" at the end. (But hey, at least they didn't write "BLTs," so that's a win!)
The flag gaffe was a portent of things to come, as the Trump administration has not been an ally to the LGBTQ community. For two years in a row, they failed to acknowledge Pride Month. They rolled back Obama-era protections for transgender workers and transgender students in public schools. And in July 2017, Trump proposed banning transgender soldiers from the military, via surprise tweet.
"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," Trump tweeted. "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."
Last year, then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis officially announced the policy, which blocks most individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria from serving in the military. Today, the Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to enforce this policy in an unsigned 5-4 decision. (And yes, the vote was split among party lines between the five conservative and four liberal justices.)
CNN reports that most transgender persons are now disqualified from military service except:
"Service members who have been stable for three years in their biological sex prior to joining the military -- meaning 36 months after completion of surgery and hormone treatments.
"Service members diagnosed with "gender dysphoria" after joining the military can stay in the military if they don't require a change of gender and remain deployable. Gender dysphoria involves a conflict between a person's physical or assigned gender and the gender with which the person identifies, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
"Service members who were diagnosed with "gender dysphoria" before the effective date of the policy can still serve and receive medical treatment.
"Transgender persons without a gender dysphoria diagnosis or history can serve in their birth sex."
Many transgender people face difficulty finding employment, and therefore sign up for the military. According to the government's numbers, there are 8,980 Service members that identify as transgender, as of 2016. The Department Of Defense insists that the proposed policy is based on professional military judgment, and does not ban all service from transgender soldiers - however, the restrictions are severely limiting.
On Twitter, critics voiced outrage about the policy, which will dramatically effect several transgender soldiers' lives. Also, it arguably makes the military weaker, as previously qualified individuals are no longer able to serve. "There is no basis for this other than ignorance and cruelty," tweeted Gavin Newsom, the governor of California.
"This is the cruel centerpiece of the Trump administration's agenda to prevent the full inclusion of transgender people in public life," stated Laura Durso, Vice President of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress. "It undermines military readiness and perpetuates the fear across the transgender and allied communities that this government will not protect them, not even those who would sacrifice everything to protect our nation."
The policy is not immediately going into effect, due to an injunction from a Maryland federal judge that is still in place. However, due to the Supreme Court's decision, that injunction is expected to be dissolved soon. As of this writing, the LGBTQ community has not yet thanked President Trump for being an ally. (Gee, I wonder why?)