Even before President Trump declared that transgender Americans wouldn't be allowed to serve openly in the U.S. military, the trans population was more vulnerable to mental illness, suicide, sexual assault, and harassment than the non-trans population. As The Guardian's Mona Chalabi writes, they are also more than twice as likely as the non-trans population to serve in the military. The military has historically treated the non-cis population poorly — "don't ask, don't tell" was only repealed in 2010 — and yet transgender individuals continue to volunteer to serve their country, sometimes with their lives.
As Chalabi points out, the National Center for Transgender Equality — a worthy cause that you can support by donating here — commissioned research back in 2015 that provided the basis of this statistic. The thorough report found that, among other things:
- 40 percent of transgender respondents had tried to kill themselves in their lifetime;
- 10 percent of transgender respondents had experienced anti-LGBTQ violence from a family member;
- 30 percent of transgender respondents had lost a job or experienced mistreatment due to their gender expression or gender identity;
- 58 percent of transgender respondents reported being mistreated by the police;
- 46 percent of transgender respondents had been verbally harassed in the last year;
- 47 percent of transgender respondents had been sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.
The report notes that "transgender people serve in the military at a higher rate than the U.S. general population." Almost one-fifth of respondents had served in the military, and 60 percent who had left said that they would consider returning if the transgender ban was lifted. Nineteen percent of respondents noted that being transgender had contributed to their being discharged.
"Respondents in every age group were more likely to be veterans than their counterparts in the U.S. population," the report continued. "The results [of the study] suggest that lifting the ban on transgender service members and implementing new policies could lead to a substantial number of current and former service members continuing or resuming their military service."
Meanwhile, Trump had tweeted that the military "cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail" as the reason behind his decision.