More than half of active-duty troops approve of Trump’s plans to reverse the Obama-era policy of allowing transgender individuals to serve, according to the latest Military Times poll.
Nearly 53 percent said they supported Trump’s comments in July stating the military should not “accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity” because the services “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption.”
More than one in three troops surveyed — 38 percent — said they strongly approve of Trump’s stance.
On the other side, 35 percent of troops surveyed disapproved of the comments, 24 percent strongly.
The poll results come as Defense Department officials are conducting a six-month review of military transgender policies, expected to be completed in early 2018.
In August, Trump issued a presidential memo formally establishing a ban on any new transgender recruits, halting the use of military funds for sex reassignment surgery, and ordering Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to determine whether transgender personnel currently in uniform should be allowed to stay.
The move came less than a year after former President Barack Obama’s Pentagon allowed transgender individuals to serve openly for the first time.
In a similar Military Times poll in late 2016, 57 percent of active-duty military personnel expressed a negative opinion of that decision, saying it had a negative effect on military morale.
Trump’s stance was popular among the enlisted ranks, where nearly 56 percent preferred Trump’s take on transgender service, while 31 percent disapproved.
Among officers, Trump’s comments about transgender policy were less popular, as 49 percent disapproved of Trump’s comments, 41 percent approved.
The Navy was the most opposed (47 percent), while the Marine Corps was the most in favor (78 percent).
Advocates estimate that up to 15,000 transgender individuals are already serving, while Defense Department estimates have put the figure at around half that.
Between Sept. 7 and 25, Military Times and conducted a voluntary, confidential online survey of U.S. service members. The questions focused on President Trump’s time in the White House and national security issues facing American leaders.
The survey received 1,131 responses from active-duty troops. A standard methodology was used to estimate the weights for each individual observation of the survey sample. The margin of error for the questions was roughly 3 percent.
The survey audience was 86 percent male and 14 percent female, and had a mean age of 30 years old. The respondents identified themselves as 76 percent white, 8 percent Hispanic, 9 percent African American, 2 percent Asian and 5 percent other ethnicities. Respondents were able to select more than one race.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.