Almost no transgender recruits have been permitted to join the U.S. Army since President Trump’s attempted military ban was blocked by a series of federal court rulings.
According to the LGBTQ military organization SPARTA, out of the 140 trans people who enlisted after the policy was lifted in January 2018, just two have successfully joined the U.S. armed forces. As the New York Times reports, the other applicants have been stymied by endless red tape and draconian requirements that have stalled their candidacies for months.
Nicholas Bade, a Chicago-based martial arts instructor who hopes to be a dog handler in the Air Force, has been rejected five times. Despite meeting the physical requirements for enlistment, the 38-year-old claimed his most recent rejection was due to a “minor document from years ago.”
“Each time, they say they need even more medical information,” Bade told the Times.
Another applicant for the Coast Guard Reserve claimed that he “has spent months gathering medical notes, lab results, hormone records and doctors’ credentials going back four years to support his application,” according to the newspaper.
One applicant was rejected because of a 25-year-old knee surgery from when he was an infant, which has not been an issue since the operation.
The Department of Defense (DOD) declined to provide numbers on trans recruitment to the Times, citing ongoing litigation. But the governmental agency alleged in a statement that “the time it takes to review each individual record will vary based upon the individual.”
But when INTO spoke to the Pentagon earlier this year, a representative claimed the process of enlistment typically takes up to 90 days.
The Defense Department claimed it would “comply with the court order,” referring to a series of decisions blocking the president’s trans exclusion policy first outlined in a series of tweets. In July 2017, Trump tweeted that transgender people would not be permitted to serve in the armed forces “in any capacity,” but at least four judges have ruled against that proposal.
Most recently, U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman of Seattle ruled in June that a preliminary injunction against the trans military ban “shall remain in full force and effect nationwide.”
The Times report was released just days after three dozen retired military and national security personnel signed onto an amicus brief filed by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the American Medical Association decrying the president’s policy. The veterans claimed the ban “undermines rather than promotes the national security interests of the United States.”
“The President’s actions here continue to reflect a sharp departure from decades of military practice across multiple administrations regarding considered policy-making on major questions of military readiness,” signatories claimed in the July 3 friend-of-the-court brief.
This group is just the latest to come out against the president’s military ban. It has been condemned by the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, six former U.S. Surgeons General, dozens of retired military officers, and each of the five military chiefs of staff, as well as every leading LGBTQ rights organization.
An internal study released by the Pentagon two years ago showed that allowing trans people to join the military would have no impact on troop readiness or unit cohesion and would entail minimal costs.