WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) strongly condemned a White House directive that interferes in Department of Defense personnel policy by pushing forward President Trump's and Vice President Pence's transgender military ban. HRC called on Secretary of Defense James Mattis to protect transgender service members from the vicious political assault.
The new directive bans at least some medically necessary transition-related health care and extends the ban on transgender people enlisting or commissioning into the military. The long term issue of currently serving transgender troops' continued service remains unresolved.
"Donald Trump and Mike Pence are forcing their hate, bigotry, and discrimination onto the military with this transgender ban," said Stephen Peters, HRC National Press Secretary and Marine veteran. "Secretary Mattis has a solemn responsibility to protect transgender troops from this vile political attack. We have a responsibility to treat every service member with the honor, respect, and benefits they have earned. And no qualified and talented American should be turned away from the military just because of their gender identity. Donald Trump's attack on currently serving troops and his refusal to treat every service member equally proves once again he is unfit to be commander in chief."
More than a year ago, the Pentagon lifted the archaic ban on transgender people serving openly in the U.S. military, joining eighteen other countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Israel, which allow transgender people to serve openly in their militaries. The Pentagon made the change after a year-long intensive working group that studied the implications of transgender military service. A study sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of RAND's National Defense Research Institute found that there would be minimal health care costs and negligible readiness implications associated with allowing transgender people to serve in the military contrary to the rhetoric and unfounded claims from anti-LGBTQ activists.
Estimates show there are thousands of actively serving transgender members of the U.S. military, making the Department of Defense ( DoD ) the largest employer of transgender people in America. Thousands of transgender Americans have served with honor and distinction in our military, including the more than 134,000 transgender veterans who are alive today.
OutServe-SLDN Condemns White House Purge of Trans Service Members
( WASHINGTON ) August 25, 2017 Breaking faith with top generals and admirals, President Trump's White House has issued guidance to the Department of Defense, which would effectively purge anyone found to be transgender from the armed services. This policy would purge thousands of currently serving transgender troops over the coming months and years by denying them reenlistment; threatening to cut off their healthcare; and would make permanent a ban on recruiting transgender troops that was set to expire later this year.
OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Matt Thorn stated:
"The President's order to remove transgender service members from the United States armed forces and deny them healthcare is nothing less than a purge. He is implementing this purge based on bigotry, motivated by agents of an ideology that has no concern for the national defense, and in blatant disregard of the experience of career officers who spent more than a year developing and implementing the current policy.
It is inconceivable that a man with a demonstrated incompetence in managing the small staff of the White House should have any credibility when it comes to making sound personnel decisions that will effect a fighting force of more than 1.8 million men and women.
We recognize this purge for what it is a discriminatory attack on the people who have volunteered their lives for the defense of the country. It is arbitrary and capricious, a callous and questionable exercise of constitutional authority which is beneath the dignity of a Commander-in-Chief.
We condemn the actions of the White House in initiating this purge. We condemn the disregard that the President has shown to transgender men and women who wear the uniform. We condemn the intent of any person who would make it the mission of United States military to discriminate against the very citizens they are charged to defend. And we condemn the indifference of any elected official who does not now stand up for both military personnel and the LGBT community by opposing this purge.
OutServe-SLDN along with Lambda Legal will swiftly be filing a lawsuit in federal court to challenge this action."
OutServe-SLDN's legal team will provide any and all advocacy and legal assistance possible to ensure the transgender community is able to openly serve our country in its armed forces. Individuals seeking assistance may contact the legal department directly at 800-538-7418 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
SPARTA Statement on New White House Guidance
Washington, DC SPARTA, the largest organization of transgender Americans serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, released the following statement in response to new Presidential guidance that would purge transgender service members from the US Armed Forces:
"As transgender service members, we are and have always been soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen first. We serve our country honorably, in good faith.
Transgender service members are currently deployed to various locations around the world in defense of our Nation. The average transgender service member has eight years of service and served two or more deployments. Deployments are a staple of military life. Transgender service members have shown they are fully capable of doing the job they are called upon to do, and so we will continue until directed otherwise."
GLAD and NCLR Say Their Current Lawsuit Will Stop Ban
( WASHINGTON, DC, August 25, 2017 ) Attorneys from the National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders( GLAD ) representing five servicemembers who recently filed a federal lawsuit challenging President Trump's transgender military ban issued the following statement in response to White House guidance provided to the Pentagon today.
"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, 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.
The complaint in Doe v. Trump, NCLR and GLAD's federal challenge to President Trump's transgender military ban, can be viewed here. The lawsuit rests on claims of equal protection, due process and estoppel, based on the inequity of the reversal of military policy after thousands of service members followed protocol and informed their chain of command that they are transgender. In addition to NCLR and GLAD, the plaintiffs in Doe v. Trump are represented by lawyers from Foley, Hoag LLP and WilmerHale.
The White House statement
Here is the statement, posted at: www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/08/25/presidential-memorandum-secretary-defense-and-secretary-homeland .
Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE THE SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY
SUBJECT: Military Service by Transgender Individuals
Section 1. Policy. (a) Until June 2016, the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (collectively, the Departments) generally prohibited openly transgender individuals from accession into the United States military and authorized the discharge of such individuals. Shortly before President Obama left office, however, his Administration dismantled the Departments' established framework by permitting transgender individuals to serve openly in the military, authorizing the use of the Departments' resources to fund sex-reassignment surgical procedures, and permitting accession of such individuals after July 1, 2017. The Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security have since extended the deadline to alter the currently effective accession policy to January 1, 2018, while the Departments continue to study the issue.
In my judgment, the previous Administration failed to identify a sufficient basis to conclude that terminating the Departments' longstanding policy and practice would not hinder military effectiveness and lethality, disrupt unit cohesion, or tax military resources, and there remain meaningful concerns that further study is needed to ensure that continued implementation of last year's policy change would not have those negative effects.
(b) Accordingly, by the authority vested in me as President and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States under the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including Article II of the Constitution, I am directing the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the U.S. Coast Guard, to return to the longstanding policy and practice on military service by transgender individuals that was in place prior to June 2016 until such time as a sufficient basis exists upon which to conclude that terminating that policy and practice would not have the negative effects discussed above. The Secretary of Defense, after consulting with the Secretary of Homeland Security, may advise me at any time, in writing, that a change to this policy is warranted.
Sec. 2. Directives. The Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the U.S. Coast Guard, shall:
(a) maintain the currently effective policy regarding accession of transgender individuals into military service beyond January 1, 2018, until such time as the Secretary of Defense, after consulting with the Secretary of Homeland Security, provides a recommendation to the contrary that I find convincing; and
(b) halt all use of DoD or DHS resources to fund sex reassignment surgical procedures for military personnel, except to the extent necessary to protect the health of an individual who has already begun a course of treatment to reassign his or her sex.
Sec. 3. Effective Dates and Implementation. Section 2(a) of this memorandum shall take effect on January 1, 2018. Sections 1(b) and 2(b) of this memorandum shall take effect on March 23, 2018. By February 21, 2018, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall submit to me a plan for implementing both the general policy set forth in section 1(b) of this memorandum and the specific directives set forth in section 2 of this memorandum. The implementation plan shall adhere to the determinations of the Secretary of Defense, made in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, as to what steps are appropriate and consistent with military effectiveness and lethality, budgetary constraints, and applicable law. As part of the implementation plan, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall determine how to address transgender individuals currently serving in the United States military. Until the Secretary has made that determination, no action may be taken against such individuals under the policy set forth in section 1(b) of this memorandum.
Sec. 4. Severability. If any provision of this memorandum, or the application of any provision of this memorandum, is held to be invalid, the remainder of this memorandum and other dissimilar applications of the provision shall not be affected.
Sec. 5. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
(d) The Secretary of Defense is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.