But a 2016 RAND study showed the medical costs of allowing transgender people to serve openly would be relatively small, and their service would not impact military readiness. Thorn adds that reversing the policy of acceptance would be unprecedented.
“Once DOD has made changes in its personnel policy, they’ve never reverted back on it,” he adds. “So this is the history-making decision on the president’s part. They’ve never gone back on policies once they’ve been implemented.”
Estimates of the number of transgender people currently on active duty in the military range from about 1,300 to almost 9,000.
Thorn said those estimates don’t include the National Guard, which he says adds a note of irony to Trump signing the ban on the day Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas.
“They’re usually the first to be activated and put in place when we have natural disasters like this, so it’s a broader impact not just on service members but on us responding to crises,” Thorn notes.
The ACLU has filed a similar suit in Maryland on behalf of six active-duty service members.