Local transgender community shocked by military ban

Some in the local transgender community reacted Wednesday to news that President Trump will no longer allow transgender people in the military in 'any capacity.'

NEW ORLEANS -- President Donald Trump's tweets announcing a ban against transgender people in the military because of costs and disruption has rippled through the local transgender community.

"I have truly learned to live my authentic self and be me and be proud," said Mariah Vanda.

Vanda says living openly has always been a fear for transgender people.  While she's not in the military, she knows people like her who are.

"I thought we reached a point where tolerance was what we were speaking," Vanda said.

She says policies like this are pushing her community back into the shadows.

Of course, there are costs for transgender health care.

"The idea of these medications are really expensive is just not true," said Dr. Nicholas Van Sickles who sees transgendered patients at the Crescent Care Clinic in Mid-City talked to us about some of the costs.

"This is 25 dollars," as Van Sickles pointed to a bottle of estrogen.

Prescriptions hormone drugs in some cases range between $20-$40 without insurance.  Of course, surgeries cost much more. 

According to a study by the Rand Corporation over $8 million for transition related health care cost in the military, out of a $6.8 billion annual military healthcare budget.

"It is a very small amount of money, it is getting the care they need, and they are putting their lives on the line for our country," Van Sickles said.

Congressman Ralph Abraham of Louisiana says it is a readiness issue if someone transitions while serving.

"You only sign up for four years and if you're not able to fight for 2.5 of those, then that's really unfair to the rest of your platoon," Abraham said.

Meanwhile, Retired Army Major Tracy Moore-Riley says to consider the fact that there are already strict rules in place to make sure applicants are fit for duty.

"Sweeping bans like this take large groups of people who otherwise may be able to serve and exclude them from that process," Moore-Riley said.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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