Q: Are Transgender people able to serve in the military?
A: In 2016 the Obama Administration changed policy allowing transgender people to serve openly and authentically in the U.S. Military. In July 2017, President Trump announced through a set of tweets, that transgender people would be barred from the U.S. military “in any capacity”. Despite vocal opposition from U.S. military leadership, President Trump continued to target transgender service members - citing, “tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail”, contrary to a 2015 Pentagon commissioned study concluding that there were no reasons to exclude transgender service members.
In November 2017 after hearing a case brought forth calling the transgender military ban into question, a U.S. District Court in D.C struck down the ban as discriminatory and in violation of the right to equal protection under the law.
In December 2017 the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected a request from the Trump Administration to extend a delay on allowing transgender military enlistments beyond January 1, 2018 and ordered the military to honor the existing policy of allowing transgender service members to serve openly.
Q: How do "Bathroom Bills" impact the transgender community?
Starting in 1974 through the early 2000s was the first wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation, which involved ballot campaigns to repeal or prevent the passage of laws that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The second wave spanning from the early 2000s to 2012, involved the anti-same-sex marriage laws passed starting in the mid-1990s, and ballot campaigns to ban state recognition of same-sex marriage.
The third wave is this current set of legislation aimed at undermining or gutting local nondiscrimination ordinances, ranging from overly broad state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts—which could allow businesses and community agencies to refuse service to LGBT people on religious beliefs—to this new anti-transgender legislation. Opponents of equality cite public safety as their main focus, claiming that allowing access to shared facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms based on gender identity, rather than sex assigned at birth, increases the risk of voyeurism and sexual assault, contrary to current law and legal protections already in place. Advocates of equality argue such measures are unnecessary, stigmatizing and exclusionary. Enacting such laws would make it very difficult for transgender people to leave their homes to work, go to school, or participate in public life, without significant anxiety and fear about how they will access shared facilities when the need arises. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, in a “Dear Colleague” letter, the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice issued guidance to schools regarding transgender students. In February 2017, under the Trump Administration the Education Department and Department of Justice issued a letter withdrawing the previous guidance.
From 2013 to 2016, at least 24 states considered “bathroom bills” or other anti-transgender legislation. In 2017, at least 16 states had anti-transgender legislation or ballot initiatives.