The anti-transgender military ban will affect an estimated 15K transgender service members
Today, President Trump signed a memo officially banning transgender Americans from joining the military and allowing the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security to limit the duties of active transgender service members. The measure also forces the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to restrict healthcare coverage for transgender service members.
Kasey Suffredini, co-chair of Freedom for All Massachusetts, the campaign working to defeat a 2018 ballot initiative that would repeal Massachusetts’ transgender nondiscrimination law, issued the following statement:
“As Americans, we have a sacred obligation to honor and protect anyone who is willing and able to serve in or nation’s armed forces. Transgender Americans serve for the same reasons as anyone else: because they cherish our country’s values of freedom and fairness. President Trump pledged to be ‘great’ for both LGBT people and veterans, and today he has broken that promise. He has not only failed to take any significant step to ensure America’s safety and national security—he has disrespected and demeaned loyal transgender members of our military who put their lives on the line every single day for our nation.”
“This policy is a shameful slap in the face to people who put their lives on the line everyday to defend our country,” said Jennifer Levi,GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)Transgender Rights Project Director. “Our military is strongest when all people who are fit to serve have the opportunity to do so. This unprecedented policy amounts to a purge of qualified, contributing troops, and will serve only to undermine unit cohesion and weaken military readiness. We are moving quickly with our plaintiffs to see that a court puts a stop to this latest demonstration of President Trump playing politics with people’s lives.”
“Two weeks ago, NCLR filed a lawsuit with GLAD that has the power to stop Trump’s transgender military ban. This is a senseless and unprecedented attack on dedicated service members who have played by the rules,” said Shannon Minter, NCLR Legal Director. “Our military already has standards and systems in place to ensure our troops are qualified and fit to serve. Trump’s ban is about politics, not military policy, and it will make our country less secure.”
GLAD and NCLR filed the federal lawsuit Doe v. Trump on August 9, on behalf of 5 transgender service members with nearly 60 years of combined military service across a range of military branches. The plaintiffs are preparing to file a motion asking the court to block implementation of the ban while the suit proceeds.
In Massachusetts, full protections for transgender people from discrimination has been state law since 2016. The law now faces a 2018 ballot measure—making Massachusetts the first state in U.S. history to bring a transgender public accommodations law to potential repeal by voters.
Nearly one in five transgender Americans—21%—is serving or has served in the U.S. armed forces—over twice the percentage of the general population. Currently, there are approximately 15,000 active transgender service members.
The military itself has carefully studied this issue and concluded that there is no military reason to bar transgender people from service, stating that a more inclusive policy has little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.
Freedom for All Massachusetts is the ballot committee working to defeat a 2018 ballot initiative that would repeal existing nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in public places like restaurants, retails shops and hospitals, and ensure that Massachusetts continues to be a national leader on equality and fairness for all.
[From a News Release]