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Majority of Male Veterans and Active Duty Troops Oppose Trans Military Service, Women Strongly in Favor

A majority of veterans and active U.S. service members do not support allowing transgender people to serve in the armed forces, according to a new poll.

Released on Wednesday, a survey conducted by Smithsonian found that just 39 percent of respondents were in favor of allowing trans troops to openly enlist. The magazine polled 1,000 people in partnership with George Mason University and the military-focused publication Stars and Stripes.

Results differed starkly by gender. Whereas just 37 percent of men said they had no problem with transgender enlistment, nearly two-thirds of female veterans or women in active duty (62 percent) supported trans military service.

While these numbers may suggest the military remains conservative on trans issues, previous surveys have been less than conclusive on the subject.

In August 2017, Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University polled Americans on President Trump’s then-recent tweetstorm claiming trans enlistment would entail “tremendous medical costs and disruption” for the armed forces. The majority of military households disagreed with Trump’s conclusions: 55 percent said they should be allowed to serve.

Overall, Quinnipiac found that 68 percent of respondents—almost seven in 10—opposed the president’s attempted ban on trans military service.

As the Trump administration has continued to defend the policy in court over the past year and lost more than a half dozen times, the vast majority of surveys show the public has continued to oppose the ban.

While the conservative-leaning Rasmussen Reports showed a very slim majority of Americans are in favor of trans enlistment—45 to 44—others are more decisive. Morning Consult claimed 68 percent of registered voters are against banning transgender people from the military, while The Economist and YouGov found that respondents supported transgender troops by a 15-point margin.

The most damning result, however, originated from The Harris Poll in July 2017. Almost three out of five people told the respected analytics and market research firm that the ban is intended to “distract from other policies and issues currently being discussed.”

Following a series of court decisions blocking the policy, the Trump administration has appealed to the Supreme Court to take up the case.

After Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed in the face of three sexual misconduct claims, the hope is that a conservative-leaning court would be more favorable to the policy. Prior to his confirmation, LGBTQ groups warned Kavanaugh would fall to the right of every Supreme Court judge except Clarence Thomas.

SCOTUS has yet to respond to the White House’s petition. The court typically hears up to 150 cases within a calendar year, despite receiving thousands of requests.

Last week, advocacy organizations filed a series of legal briefs urging Supreme Court justices to reject the case. These groups include GLBTQ Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and OutServe-SLDN.

“There is no urgency warranting this court’s immediate intervention,” claimed Lambda and OutServ in the Dec. 28 plea.


Nico Lang

Nico Lang is a staff writer for INTO, covering news, politics, and global LGBTQ issues.