Transgender service members react to potential ban

Plans to prohibit transgender men and women from serving in the military aren't changing anything just yet.

Plans to prohibit transgender men and women from serving in the military aren't changing anything just yet. President Donald Trump announced the policy change on Twitter Wednesday, but the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says there will be no changes for now.

Still, the possibility of this ban becoming an official policy has shaken communities across the country.

Transgender service members can continue to serve openly until the President sends official direction to military leaders to change the policy, and the Pentagon figures out how to implement it.

Tweets sent out by the President said medical costs for transgender people created a burden.

It caught the attention of millions, many felt announcing the news informally on social media was disrespectful, including Sierra Davis, a Marine veteran and transgender woman.

"You're kicking out 15,000 soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines that you have trained, that you have put money into and now you're going to have to even more money to train more money to replace them,” Davis said.

Davis served for nearly four years.

“I feel like I was born to protect people, just like I feel I was born as a girl,” she added.

Leo Carpenter, a transgender man, who has been involved in the military for the last seven years and currently an Army reservist, is heartbroken.

He believes being part of the military is part of his identity, growing up, he saw his father serve.

“It hurts for your commander-in-chief to say you're not worth the cost,” Carpenter said.

The 25-year-old goes on to say, regardless if transgender members get support from the community regarding their healthcare, it won't deter them from working hard.

“We're not going to stop what we do -- we are going to continue to be the best we can," he added.

Davis believes this potential policy change gives the idea that discrimination is okay under federal law which could lead people to lie in order to join -- violating integrity.

“What other rights do transgender people not allowed to have?” she said.

For Davis and Carpenter, it's the symbols on the uniform that mean the most.

“It reminds me that I'm strong enough to have earned it…just everyday discrimination, I can fight it."

Analysis from the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit that conducts research for the Armed Forces, puts healthcare costs for transgender needs around two and a half to eight and a half million dollars per year.

That's out of roughly 49 billion the Pentagon spends annually on health care. The transgender care portion comes out to around a tenth of a percent.

And while military health insurance does cover counseling and hormone therapy, it does not cover gender re-assignment surgery.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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