Debate is raging on social media about President Trump's decision on Wednesday to reverse an Obama-era policy and ban transgender individuals from serving openly in the military, but how did service members perceive the policy in the first place?
A Military Times/Institute for Veterans and Military Families poll of 1,664 active-duty troops conducted on a voluntary and confidential basis as President Barack Obama's term was coming to an end last December found significantly more respondents believed it to be hurtful than helpful. The Washington Examiner's David Freddoso reported on the survey upon its release last January:
Service members are divided on various initiatives by Obama. On balance (four-to-three in favor), they view the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" as a good thing, but they frown upon mixed-gender combat units (two-to-one against) and transgender service members (more than three-to-one against).
More specifically, when asked how the policy allowing transgender individuals to serve openly "affected military readiness," 41 percent said it "hurt" while 12 just percent said it "helped."
Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the change to allow transgender soldiers last summer, roughly six months before the poll was taken, saying in a Defense Department press release, "This is the right thing to do for our people and for the force."
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.