SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – With a stroke of a pen, President Joe Biden repealed a policy from the Trump administration Monday that prevented transgender individuals who planned on pursuing gender-affirming hormones or surgery from serving in the military. The White House said Biden believes gender identity should not be a bar to military service.
The policy from 2017 by President Trump, most commonly known as the Transgender Military Ban was a reversal of an Obama administration policy back in June 2016. Supporters of the rule said they were concerned that the military would be forced to pay for the gender-affirming procedures of transgender military members.
A study commissioned by the Pentagon just the year before the ban was enacted, found that transgender people in the military had “little to no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.” Meanwhile, healthcare spending on active duty transgender service members increased by only about 1/10th of a percent.
Tisha Olsen, who is a transgender woman and served in the Marines during the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. to talk about the challenges, difficulties, and hardships she endured by having to conceal her identity and refrain from living her authentic self while in the military. She shared how she relates to the feelings and experiences of the transgender individuals who were impacted by the transgender military ban.
Breeze Hannaford, Coordinator of the G.I.V.E. Program at the Salt Lake City V.A. discussed the services and resources that her agency provides, the data surrounding transgender veterans and mental health, and challenges that our transgender veterans still face even after they leave the military.
Dr. Candice Metzler and Becca Green with the Transgender Education Advocates (TEA) of Utah explained what needs to be done to stop policy surrounding transgender service members from being tugged back and forth between each presidential administration, how someone can approach the difficult conversation with someone who may be hateful towards transgender individuals, and what’s next in the fight towards equality for our transgender community.
To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Olsen, Hannford, Dr. Metzler, and Green, click on the video at the top of the article.
Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.