WASHINGTON—In an unexpected move, President Donald Trump announced through tweets today that he was re-instating the ban on transgender Americans openly serving in the armed forces.
President Trump’s tweets, shown below, stated: “….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. Thank you”.
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
Trump’s tweets make it unclear what will happen to the estimated 15,000 transgender service members already serving in the armed forces. The specifics of the policy changes remain unknown – the Pentagon referred requests for comment back to the White House, but noted it would “work closely with the White House to address the new guidance provided by the Commander-in-Chief….”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, however, this action could result in the discharge of more than 15,000 transgender Americans currently serving our country at this critical time.
“Today Donald Trump has proven himself as unpatriotic as he is unfit to serve as Commander in Chief. He has put a target on the backs of the more than 15,000 transgender troops proudly serving in our military,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “This heinous and disgusting action endangers the lives of American service members, undermines military readiness and makes our country less safe. It is also the latest effort by Trump and Mike Pence to undo our progress and drag LGBTQ people back into the closet by using our lives as political pawns.”
Trump claims he consulted with military experts prior to making the decision, despite the Pentagon lifting the long-standing ban on transgender service members in 2016.
“Transgender Americans have put their lives on the line for our country for generations now. They serve for the same reasons as everyone else: because they love their country and cherish our values,” said Kasey Suffredini and Mason Dunn, co-chairs of Freedom for All Massachusetts. “It’s extraordinarily disappointing that our Commander-in-Chief is turning his back on those who sacrifice so much for our nation. Today’s tweets from President Trump make it clear that efforts to undermine legal equality for transgender individuals are strong at the federal level. No one who puts their lives on the line for our country should ever find themselves left in the cold by our president or our government. That’s why it’s more important than ever that we preserve and protect the measures we have in place at the state level in Massachusetts so that protections for transgender people are not stripped from our nondiscrimination law in 2018.”
Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), Chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus’s Transgender Equality Task Force, is hosting a press conference to call on the President to reverse his insulting and degrading new policy.
“When our bravest men and women raise their hand and volunteer to defend our nation, they defend all of her people,” said Congressman Kennedy. “Rich and poor. Democrat and Republican. Gay and straight. Americans of all gender identities, races, religions, and beliefs. Our soldiers do not discriminate. They do not offer to pay the ultimate sacrifice to protect some lives and not others. Their government owes them that courtesy – that decency – in return.
“Instead, our President has told thousands of American soldiers that though they fight for us, we will not fight for them. That their deeply personal medical decisions are public business. That although they are willing to sacrifice their lives to protect our freedom, we will not offer them the most basic freedom in return.
“Today the President of our United States looked American soldiers in the eye and dared to question their patriotism – their courage. He doubted their commitment to their brothers and sisters in uniform. He said that our military couldn’t or wouldn’t stand for all of us. To the thousands of brave transgender men and women serving today: please know that this grateful nation does not take your service and your patriotism for granted. You deserve better from your president. You deserve better from your country.”
And this is not all of what may be happening today to the LGBTQ community.
The Trump Administration is also expected to attack the LGBTQ community on another front. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is said to be preparing to file a legal brief seeking to undermine a growing legal consensus that LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It would reverse former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s assertion that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is prohibited under Title VII. As a result, DOJ would no longer enforce civil rights laws on behalf of LGBTQ people, a move that could have dangerous influence on federal court cases across the country.
Last year, the Obama Administration ended the ban on transgender Americans serving openly. Earlier this month, the Pentagon announced that the ban on transgender people enlisting in the armed forces would be extended until the end of this year. Last week, the Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives rejected a discriminatory amendment that would have stripped transgender service members and their families of critical health care coverage.
In Massachusetts, full protections for transgender people from discrimination has been state law since 2016. The transgender public accommodations law now faces a 2018 ballot measure.
Freedom for All Massachusetts is 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.
Other organizations also react to the news
Out-Serve-SLDN’s CEO Matt Thorn issued the follow statement: “The president’s apparently unilateral decision, seemingly developed and announced with no involvement from the nation’s military leadership, is discriminatory and wrong. It is, quite simply, un-American to bar a group of people from military service based on one characteristic – in this case, their gender identity.
“Make no mistake, the President may be couching this decision in terms of its alleged financial impact, but that is a red herring. The impact of this decision will be a decline in military readiness and a decrease in the ability of America’s fighting force to defend the nation. Our nation’s service members deserve our respect, not our ridicule, and certainly not our refusal to allow all Americans who would willingly serve our nation to do so. We will defend the right of all Americans to willingly serve the nation we all love in the courts. We owe the brave transgender service members who defend our country nothing less than the full measure of our respect for the service they dedicate to our nation.
“In his latest example of pseudo-policy-by-twitter, Donald Trump has shown blatant disregard for transgender service members who have been serving openly since October 2016.The disruptive burden to the military comes from indecision in a White House which itself is not focused on victory if it is targeting service members. The readiness, effectiveness, and lethality of the Armed Services comes from the commitment of our troops – not the vagaries and bigotry of exclusionary policies. OutServe-SLDN is committed to transgender service members. We are going to fight for them as hard as they are fighting for the country. We’re going to start by taking the fight to Donald Trump in the Federal Court System.
“To the estimated 15,000 transgender service members currently in the US military, we say, ‘ We see you. We love you. We thank you. But most importantly, we’ve got your back.”
OutServe-SLDN (OS-SLDN) is the largest non-profit, legal services, advocacy and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America’s military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. For more information, visit www.outserve-sldn.org.
Donald Trump’s tweet scapegoating transgender members of the U.S. military is un-American and a disgrace.
A person who makes the choice to serve their country is a hero, not a “disruption.” Thousands of transgender people serve with distinction alongside other dedicated service men and women.
A ban against transgender service members would undermine military readiness and is inconsistent with the conclusions drawn by the Department of Defense’s (DOD) own reports. DOD has concluded that transgender service members may serve openly and that doing so strengthens the military. Nothing as simplistic as a tweet can change that. We hope and expect that DOD will push back against this unacceptable threat.
GLAD takes the tweet seriously, however, and stands ready to protect any service member unfairly targeted in the future. Affected military members can contact GLAD Answers at 1-800-455-GLAD, or www.glad.org/know-your-rights/glad-answers/.
Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation.
MassEquality Executive Director, Deborah Shields, JD, MPH, released the following statement regarding the president’s tweets:
“MassEquality joins LGBTQ advocates across the country in condemning the president’s decision to bar transgender people from serving in the U.S. military as discriminatory and contrary to our nation’s values of equality and justice for all, as enshrined in the Constitution. We are pleased to see prompt bipartisan opposition from members of Congress and a strong public outcry in response to the ban.
“This ill-considered policy reversal affects thousands of patriotic transgender Americans who have bravely and honorably served their country in all branches of the armed forces, leaving their future uncertain. Both the Defense Department and the nonpartisan RAND Corporation studied the impact of transgender troops, and concluded that allowing transgender people to openly serve their country would not affect military readiness or military budgets. The president’s tweets ignore these objective findings in favor of embedding discrimination in U.S. military policies.
“Nearly one in five transgender Americans is serving or has served in the U.S. armed forces—over twice the percentage of the general population. We should gratefully recognize and support their service, not insult and turn our backs on them. Discrimination has no place in our military. The thousands of transgender Americans who risk their lives in defense of our nation deserve to be judged by their qualifications alone and to be allowed serve openly and proudly. Anything else goes against the very values our military exists to protect.”
MassEquality is the leading statewide grassroots advocacy organization working to ensure that everyone across Massachusetts can thrive from cradle to grave without discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Legal Director Shannon Price Minter issued the following statement in response:
“In three tweets, Trump is purporting to fire 15,000 transgender service members bravely serving our country and to prevent other patriotic transgender persons from enlisting. While the impact of Trump’s tweets is unclear, banning transgender service members would erode military readiness and contradict our country’s values and ideals. Like every American, transgender service members should be judged by their qualifications and performance. President Trump’s bizarre assault on these dedicated service members is appalling. Those who serve our country deserve our gratitude and respect. We call on the President to retract this harmful statement and to defer to the Pentagon’s assessment that transgender people are fit to serve.”
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.
SF LGBT Center
Statement from SF LGBT Center Executive Director Rebecca Rolfe:
“Mr. Trump’s utter disregard for the 15,000 transgender people who are currently serving in the military is reprehensible and appalling. It’s extremely disheartening to know that our military would discharge highly trained service members based on discrimination and false information about medical costs, or distortions about their contributions to this country. Transgender people are bravely serving our country with honor and this morning’s announcement not only undermines our military and the safety of our country, it is an outright attack on a community who has the right to live dignified lives without the threat of discrimination or harassment. The SF LGBT Center will continue to support the entire LGBTQ+ community, especially transgender people who face a higher rate of discrimination in education, housing, and work. We urge all government officials to reject Trump’s discriminatory rhetoric and join us in respecting the rights and dignity of all transgender people.”
The mission of the SF LGBT Center is to connect our diverse community to opportunities, resources and each other to achieve our vision of a stronger, healthier, and more equitable world for LGBT people and our allies.
[From a compilation of TRT reports and news releases]
The Internet reacts: Supporting tweets for transgender Americans, their friends and families
— Jonathan Lachman (@jonlachman) July 26, 2017
— Senator Ben Cardin (@SenatorCardin) July 26, 2017
— FreedomforAllUSA (@freedom4allusa) July 26, 2017
— Bryan Dawson (@BryanDawsonUSA) July 26, 2017
— The Hill (@thehill) July 26, 2017
— VoteVets (@votevets) July 26, 2017
69 years ago TODAY President Truman issued an exec order desegregating our military. @realDonaldTrump is firmly on the wrong side of history
— Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) July 26, 2017
— FreedomforAllUSA (@freedom4allusa) July 26, 2017
— LGBT Equality Caucus (@LGBTEqCaucus) July 26, 2017
— Equality Texas (@EqualityTexas) July 21, 2017
— Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) July 26, 2017
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) July 26, 2017
— Paul D. Castillo (@PaulCastilloJD) July 26, 2017