We finally have data about the number of LGBT people in the military
In a health survey released this week by the RAND Corporation, 6.1 percent of people in the U.S. military self-identified as LGBT . It’s the first ever direct estimate of the military’s LGBT population, even though LGB people, at least, have been allowed to serve openly for seven whole years.
The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which forced LGB service members to hide their sexualities, was repealed in 2011. Trans people have had the right to serve openly since the Department of Defense dropped a ban on their enrollment in June 2016 — to the chagrin of President Trump, who has repeatedly attempted to renew the ban on trans people serving. Though a series of civil rights lawsuits have kept a new ban from going into effect, many trans people report that they are rejected from enlisting in the U.S. military when they apply.
Of the service members who self-identified as LGBT in the RAND survey, 0.6 percent identified as trans. More LGBT-identified people were women than men. The Navy had the highest concentration of LGBT people at 9.1 percent.
To be sure, the overall number of LGBT recruits is likely higher, given the notorious difficulties of measuring LGBT populations through surveys requiring self-identification, especially in a space like the U.S. military that has long sought to erase people of those identities.