- Shayanne Gal/INSIDER
- Late last month, the Supreme Court paved the way for President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban to be put in place.
- If the courts end up upholding the policy, that would leave just 19 countries in the world that welcome soldiers with gender dysphoria.
President Donald Trump’s desired ban on transgender soldiers in the military may be put into action soon, after the Supreme Court late last month lifted an injunction on the policy while it makes its way through the courts.
If the courts end up upholding the ban, it would leave just 19 countries in the world that welcome transgender people in the military.
Among those countries, the US was the most recent to change its policy on transgender soldiers. In June 2016, in his final months in office, President Barack Obama lifted the ban on transgender people serving openly in the military.
But just six months into Trump’s administration, he tweeted that he would be ending the Obama-era policy.
- Donald J. Trump/Twitter
Advocacy groups representing transgender soldiers sued to block the policy from going into place, and BuzzFeed News has reported that Trump ordered this ban without consulting the US military’s top officer, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Trump’s proposed ban doesn’t stop transgender people from serving per se, but only allows them to enter the military if they agree to serve in the gender they were assigned at birth. Transgender men and women already serving openly in the military are grandfathered in, and will not be kicked out.
The ban hasn’t been put into place yet because the Justice Department appears to have overlooked another outstanding injunction on the policy that Judge George Russell of the US District Court for the District of Maryland issued.
The Justice Department has petitioned Russell to drop the injunction in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, but he hasn’t yet, according to CNN.
- Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
It should also be noted that the Supreme Court ruling doesn’t make a final decision on the policy, but allows it to be put into place while the issue is heard in lower courts.
After the Supreme Court announcement, the Department of Defense issued a statement reiterating its long-held stance that its policy is “NOT a ban.”
But advocates maintain that the administration’s justifications, including potential negative impacts to unit readiness and cohesion and medical costs, have mostly been debunked.
The 19 countries that accept transgender people in the military
The Netherlands was the first country to welcome transgender soldiers in 1974, according to CNN. It was followed in quick succession by fellow Nordic countries Sweden (1976), Denmark (1978), and Norway (1979) in embracing transgender soldiers.
From there, it wasn’t until 1992 that more countries joined the mix, with Australia and Canada changing their policy on transgender soldiers in 1992, Israel in 1993, and the Czech Republic in 1999.
In the 2000s, movement on the issue swept Europe, with the UK, France, Germany, Estonia, and Finland beginning to accept transgender soldiers in 2000, and Belgium (2003), Austria (2004), and Spain (2005) following in quick succession.
In 2005, Thailand became the first Asian country to accept transgender soldiers, but only in administrative roles. In 2010, Bolivia became the first South American country to welcome transgender soldiers.
While there is no specific policy on transgender soldiers in New Zealand, discrimination based on sexual orientation has been outlawed in the country’s Bill of Rights since 1993. Transgender soldiers serve openly in the New Zealand Defence Force, which was also lauded as the most inclusive in the world in 2014, according to a report from the Hague Center for Strategic Studies, the CBC reports.
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