Last week, President Trump tweeted that transgender individuals could no longer serve in the US Armed Forces.
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
If enacted this new policy against transgender individuals would reverse policies issued by Sec of Defense,, Ash Carter in 2015 that stated:
“No Service member shall be involuntarily separated or denied reenlistment or continuation of active or reserve service on the basis of their gender identity, without the personal approval of the Under Secretary of Defense for personnel and Readiness.”
However since Trump’s policy announcement on twitter, the White House and the Department of Defense have not issued any official policy changes, leaving the thousands of transgender Service members hanging in the balance. Since the official policy announcement in 2015, there have been zero reported issues by any branch of the military.
Now, everyone is waiting to see what Secretary of Defense James Mattis will do next.
Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan joined a bipartisan letter signed by 43 additional Senators to Secretary Mattis urging him to advise the President against implementing the announcement he made via Twitter Wednesday that transgender Americans can no longer serve in the military.
“We strongly oppose this policy change, and urge you to advise the President against it,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “This announcement contradicts existing Defense Department policies, undermines our military readiness, and puts our transgender service members as well as their commanders in an impossible situation.”
“We appreciate General Dunford’s message that no policy changes should be made until implementation guidelines have been issued. We further write to request that, at a minimum, you do not separate any service member due to the person’s gender identity until you have completed the assessment that you announced on June 30, have reported back to Congress about any challenges that you foresee in the accession and retention of transgender troops, and determined the Department is unable to mitigate these challenges.”
Veterans like Jason Lindsay fear that this policy shift is a “colossal step backwards” in a statement issued Wednesday.
“As an Iraq war veteran and member of the LGBTQ community who was personally impacted by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ I am appalled at Donald Trump’s announcement this morning banning transgender people from serving in the military,” said Jason Lindsay, Executive Director of Pride Fund to End Gun Violence. “This is blatant discrimination, full-stop, and a colossal step backwards for our country.”
“Trump vowed to protect the LGBTQ community during his campaign, but his methodical dismantling of LGBTQ protections and rights shows his true intentions. This morning’s announcement is a direct attack on the transgender community,” said Lindsay.
The full text of the Senators’ joint letter is included here and below.Letter to Mattis on transgender troops