Donald Trump's new ban on transgender military service is the result of behind-the-scenes efforts by Mike Pence and Steve Bannon, who worked together to enshrine discrimination.
An alliance between Mike Pence and Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist, created the policy behind Trump’s announced ban on transgender military service.
President Barack Obama lifted the ban in July of 2016, with then-Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter announcing, “Effective immediately, transgender Americans may serve openly. They can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military just for being transgender.”
Since taking over in January, Pence — who for years has aggressively pushed his anti-LGBTQ agenda — has reportedly been working on undoing the Obama policy. Foreign Policy reports that Pence and his staff have been using connections he made while serving in the House to push members to add language to legislation that would prevent federal dollars from being used to enable gender transitions.
Axios reports that Bannon was also pushing for a ban on transgender service. Thanks to Pence’s work in persuading members of Congress to insert divisive language into military appropriations bills, the case was then made to Trump by Bannon that transgender service would hold up his pet issue, the wasteful border wall.
Working together, Pence and Bannnon were able to convince Trump to announce the ban, using the lie that medical costs would be an undue burden on the budget.
The costs for medical services for transgender troops are a drop in the bucket. A Pentagon report said it would be between $2.4 to $8.4 million per year, less than 0.14 percent of the military budget. The cost is equivalent to 4 of Donald Trump’s taxpayer funded weekend vacation trips to his luxury resort Mar-a-Lago. Unlike transgender service members, Trump is not sacrificing anything to golf on his property.
Pence and Bannon joined forces and worked through Trump’s power to enshrine discrimination in the armed services, while keeping military leaders out of the loop, drawing condemnation from Democrats and even some Republicans.
That’s how America got to this shameful moment.