Trump Tweets to Ban Transgender Troops—But How Does Canada's Military Stack Up?

On July 26, Donald Trump announced that the U.S. military would no longer accept transgender troops—and the Canadian Armed Forces responded in the best way

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wearing a pink shirt at the 2016 Pride parade in Toronto.

(Photo: Getty)

Back in 1992, Canada ended its ban on LGBTQ+ members in the military, making it one of 18 countries that still allows transgender personnel to serve on behalf of their country. Since Bill C-16 was passed in June—criminalizing discrimination on the grounds of gender expression and identity—the Canadian Forces has made it a priority to improve its diversity policies.

We’re giving you this brief history lesson on the heels of yet another outrageous move by the President of the United States. On July 26, in a move that outraged a slew of celebrities and civilians alike, Trump announced on Twitter (yes, Twitter) that he will ban transgender personnel from serving in the U.S. military. This, despite his tweet last year in support of LGBT rights. According to Trump, medical costs and “disruptions” caused by transgender people won’t allow the military to function cohesively.

Hours after the trio of tweets, the Canadian Forces responded to Trump by sharing a photo of the Royal Canadian Navy band playing in the 2016 Pride Parade with this caption:

City News also released a video detailing the Canadian military’s stance regarding transgender members, citing a 2011 policy that protects transgender individuals’ rights to sex-reassignment surgery—including the guarantee that a military assignment would not interfere with their medical procedures.

In the past, members of the Canadian Forces have encouraged the U.S. military to follow in Canada’s footsteps regarding LGBT rights. Although there are no official statistics of how many Canadian Forces personnel identify as transgender, National Defence spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier told The Globe and Mail that there are an estimated 200 transgender troops currently serving. He added that the military has paid for 19 sex-reassignment operations between 2008 and 2015.

It’s no secret that being forced to hide gender identity and sexuality—as military personnel have had to do—can have devastating effects on mental health. The American Psychological Association published a study showing that 48 to 62 percent of transgender people suffer from depression, only one of the many side effects of society’s general misunderstanding of gender identity and sexuality. The Canadian Forces’ efforts to diversify demonstrate their acceptance of LGBT troops and validates the contributions these troops make to our country.

After Trump’s tweets regarding his transgender ban, several notable people within the LGBTQ community voiced their concerns on Twitter—among them former U.S. Army soldier Chelsea Manning, actor Laverne Cox and Olympian-slash-reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner.

So far, it seems that Trump’s tweets have virtually zero legal ground. However, advocacy groups have already started protesting in case the tweets lead to legal proceedings. FLARE will continue following this story as it develops.

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