Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) has assessed the problem with President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender servicemen and women in a sharply clarifying way.
“When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter after I was shot down, I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white or brown,” Duckworth said in a statement shared Thursday on Twitter.
The senator is an Iraq War veteran who lost both legs after her helicopter was shot down in 2004. She offered her judgment on Twitter after new reports suggested that the White House is giving the Pentagon six months to implement the new transgender policy.
Duckworth called the military ban “discriminatory,” “disruptive” and “counterproductive” to national security.
“If you are willing to risk your life for our country and you can do the job, you should be able to serve ― no matter your gender identity or sexual orientation,” she said.
Trump unexpectedly announced that he was pulling transgender troops from the military in a late July tweet. He had made the decision after consulting with “Generals and military experts,” the president said at the time.
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory,” Trump said, “and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
The “tremendous medical costs” that Trump cited in his reasoning actually amount to a 0.04 to 0.13 percent increase in the Defense Department’s total health care spending, according to the Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research institution that offers analyses to the U.S. armed forces. Rand estimates that 30 to 140 transgender service members would seek hormone treatments per year and that 25 to 130 individuals would opt for surgery related to gender confirmation.
The Pentagon lifted the previous ban on transgender service members in 2016 after reviewing the implications for military readiness.
Rand, which studied the matter, wrote in a statement at that time: “If the U.S. military decides to let transgender people serve openly, the number would likely be a small fraction of the total force and have minimal impact on readiness and health care costs.”