Yesterday, following Trump’s wishes, House Republicans approved $1.6 billion in border wall funding. It’s off to the Senate now, where Democrats have said they will block it.
The ACLU opposes construction of the wall because it furthers Trump’s draconian and discriminatory anti-immigrant agenda and puts the rights of people who live near the border in jeopardy. But a revelation made this move even more callous. Now we know that Trump's short-lived victory was the work of rank discrimination against patriotic transgender service members.
This week, President Trump announced — in all but three tweets — that transgender people will be banned from military service.
Despite Trump’s false claim that his pronouncement was the result of consultation with “my Generals” and concerns over spending, it has become obvious that sound policy had nothing to do with his reckless decision.
A new report from Politico reveals that Trump decided to ban transgender service members as a way to secure funding for his proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
Several House members planned to vote against the “minibus” spending bill, which determines the Pentagon’s spending and also includes $1.6 billion for Trump’s border wall, if it did not include an amendment to prohibit funding for transgender health care in the military. In an effort to appease his right flank, Trump — obsessed with the construction of a border wall — decided to not just target transgender health care but rather to issue a broad ban against all transgender people from serving in our Armed Forces.
Trump did not consult with the Joint Chiefs of Staff before making the announcement, according to CNN, and one of “the heads of the military branches was informed by a staffer of the President's tweets on transgender policy and had no idea it was coming.” Trump did, however, consult his “faith advisers.”
Secretary of Defense Mattis, who just three weeks ago proposed giving the Pentagon six more months to study the impact of transgender troops on military readiness, was on vacation at the time Trump made his Twitter pronouncements.
Some military leaders, clueless that Trump was announcing a new policy on transgender service, reportedly worried that he was on the verge of tweeting a call for military strikes on North Korea.
In fact, as of today, there is still no new official policy on transgender service in the military. Even White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders couldn’t offer any details on the status of the thousands of transgender service members.
Trump didn’t only mislead the public when he said that the ban was the result of close consultation with military leaders, but he also pushed the false claim that spending on health services for transgender troops was too burdensome.
While Trump cited the “tremendous medical costs” of transgender health care coverage in his tweet-storm, experts found that such expenses are minimal, and they are far less onerous than what the government spends on the president’s many trips to Mar-a-Lago or what the military spends on Viagra.
Trump’s own staff also undermined the case that the discriminatory ban was intended to improve military readiness. One official bragged that the transgender ban was meant to help their party win key races in the midterm elections.
While the military’s trans-inclusive policy “was crafted through a comprehensive and inclusive process” that involved military leaders, outside experts, medical professionals, and transgender service members, Trump’s discriminatory ban was dictated by tweet, rife with falsehoods, and done without significant consultation with members of the military.
It appears that Trump will do whatever it takes to win financing for his ill-conceived and unwanted border wall, even if it means undercutting the military and denying thousands of patriotic transgender troops their right to serve — something Trump avoided five times during the Vietnam War.