- The Magazine
A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that a majority of Americans believe transgender individuals should be allowed to serve in the military.
According to the poll, conducted from July 26-28, 58% of Americans support openly trans servicemembers.
Twenty-seven percent said they should not be allowed to serve, and the remainder said they “don’t know.”
As with most social issues, there is a partisan split, with Democrats overwhelmingly supporting open service while Republicans are generally more opposed.
Specifically, 32% of Republicans believe transgender Americans should be allowed to serve, while 49% say they should not. Another 19 percent say they don’t know.
The public remains divided over the impact of banning transgender service members and the impact of their presence on military morale. Thirty-two percent of Americans say discharging transgender service members would hurt morale, while 17% say it would improve morale. Another 33% say they feel a ban on transgender service members would “have no impact,” and the rest say they don’t know.
When asked how a ban on transgender service members affects military capabilities, 14% say prohibiting them from serving makes the military more capable, compared to 22% who say it makes the military less capable, with 43% of Americans saying it has “no impact” on military readiness.
The poll’s findings seem to show a similar divide as shown in a recent Rasmussen poll. According to that poll, 23% of likely voters believe allowing transgender individuals to serve openly has a good impact on the military, while 31% say it has a bad effect, and 38% say it has no impact one way or another.
Neither the Reuters or Rasmussen polls explicitly surveyed military members, though a Military Times poll from last December found that 41% of active-duty service members thought allowing transgender people to serve was harmful to military readiness.
Unfortunately, so long as opinion remains divided largely along political and ideological lines, it is unlikely that Trump will change his stance until he receives significant pushback from Congress.
With that in mind, a coalition of 19 attorneys general recently asked Congress to include explicit protections for transgender military members in the annual defense bill in order to allow them to serve without fear of being forcibly discharged.
On another front, the president has received some pushback from a bipartisan coalition of 45 U.S. senators, who wrote to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis asking him to try and steer Trump away from instituting his proposed transgender ban.
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