President Trump issued orders March 23 to bar most transgender troops who need surgery or significant medical treatment from serving in the U.S. military.
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The memo followed a pledge he made last year to ban such troops, a change the Pentagon has been reviewing, and that has been fought out in the courts ever since.
Four federal courts have issued rulings and injunctions against Trump, siding with those who argued that banning a group of people from the military on the basis of their gender identity is unconstitutional.
Under the court rulings, the Pentagon was required to begin accepting transgender recruits on Jan. 1and has reportedly accepted at least one trans recruit so far in 2018.
Multiple pro-LGBT groups issued statements slamming Trump's memo. The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) issued a joint release in which NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter said, "This is exactly the discriminatory, categorical ban that four federal courts have already barred from going forward. This is just the sort of baseless attack on dedicated service members we have come to expect from this administration, and we will continue to fight this shameful ban vigorously in federal court."
This statement also said that Trump's "announcement has no immediate impact, as four federal courts have already prohibited the ban."
GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi added, "This Trump-Pence plan categorically bans transgender people from service, with no legitimate basis. It requires the discharge of trained, skilled troops who have served honorably for decades. It's a gross mischaracterization of transgender people, and it's bad for our military."
In a separate press release, Joshua Block, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT & HIV Project, said, "What the White House has released tonight is transphobia masquerading as policy. This policy is not based on an evaluation of new evidence. It is reverse-engineered for the sole purpose of carrying out President Trump's reckless and unconstitutional ban, undermining the ability of transgender service members to serve openly and military readiness as a whole."
Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association and spouse of an active duty U.S. Army officer, said, "Donald Trump and Mike Pence are literally wreaking havoc on the lives of our military families. Military experts thoroughly studied this issue and found transgender service members should be able to serve openly with dignity and honor and receive the full support they need and deserve."
From The American Military Partner Association, OutServe-SLDN, and SPART*A:
WASHINGTON Tonight, the nation's leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ( LGBT ) military advocates responded to the heinous and continued push from the Trump-Pence Administration to implement their discriminatory transgender military ban. Implementation details for the ban were released tonight. However, six separate federal courts have blocked implementation, and barring further court action, the administration cannot implement it.
"The Trump-Pence administration's continued insistence on targeting our military families for discrimination is appalling, reckless, and unpatriotic," said Ashley Broadway-Mack, President of the American Military Partner Association and spouse of an active duty U.S. Army officer. "Donald Trump and Mike Pence are literally wreaking havoc on the lives of our military families. Military experts thoroughly studied this issue and found transgender service members should be able to serve openly with dignity and honor and receive the full support they need and deserve. This unconscionable attack on our military families cannot stand we refuse to allow it."
"This policy is a thinly-veiled and feeble attempt by the Trump-Pence administration to justify the unnecessary discrimination of qualified patriots in order to advance their own personal agendas and in defiance of the administration's top military leadership. This plan is riddled with blatant animus, bigotry, and ignorance but conveniently void of any foundational bases or facts," said Matt Thorn, President & CEO of OutServe-SLDN. "We are calling this what it is an attempt to legitimize an unwarranted and unnecessary attack that targets individuals who have volunteered their lives in support of this country. A vast majority of this country affirms that transgender individuals should be allowed to serve. Alongside our co-counsel, Lambda Legal, we will continue to push for equity and justice and block this unjustifiable animus against the transgender military community through our nation's judicial systems. To all our transgender brethren, I want to reiterate you are not a burden and we got your six."
"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" said Blake Dremann, President of SPART*A. "Transgender service members are currently deployed to various locations around the world in defense of our nation. They have been doing their jobs despite those who are attempting to remove them. Proving they are fully capable of doing the job they are called to do, the average transgender service member has eight years of service and served two or more deployments. There is no justification for a ban, and there is no justification for leaving our country without service members who are capable and performing their duties to the standards set forth by our commanders."
HRC Condemns Trump-Pence Transgender Troop Ban Policy
Military and national security officials, bipartisan elected leaders also oppose discriminatory ban
WASHINGTON - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, condemned the newly-released official Trump-Pence Administration policy attempting to implement Donald Trump's discriminatory ban on transgender troops. Trump's hastily tweeted troop ban, which has now been turned into official policy, is opposed by national security leaders, military officials, servicemembers' organizations and bipartisan elected officials, including top Republicans in Congress.
"There is simply no way to spin it, the Trump-Pence Administration is going all in on its discriminatory, unconstitutional and despicable ban on transgender troops," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "Donald Trump and Mike Pence are pushing their extreme anti-transgender prejudices onto the military over the overwhelming objections of bipartisan officials, national security leaders and the American public. We will never stop fighting this discriminatory policy until every current and future transgender service member is treated equally and respected fully for their bravery."
"The Trump-Pence Administration continues to double down on its cruel and unconstitutional ban on transgender troops," said HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride. "From the first impulsive tweet, this policy has clearly been driven by an extreme anti-LGBTQ agenda rather than what is in the best interests of our troops and national security. Transgender people are enlisting and serving with distinction right now, and there is no legitimate reason to change that. Moreover, releasing this news under cover of darkness late on a Friday night means thousands of transgender troops will wake up tomorrow with their lives turned upside down. This couldn't be more cowardly or wrong."
This guidance seeks to implement the Twitter policy of Donald Trump to ban transgender people from serving or enlisting in the military. In August, HRC joined as an organizational co-plaintiff in Karnoski v. Trump, a case brought by Lambda Legal and Outserve-SLDN, challenging the ban in court. HRC is joined by the American Military Partner Association, Gender Justice League, and nine individuals as co-plaintiffs in the case. Six separate federal courts have issued rulings blocking implementation of the ban. Barring further court action, the administration cannot implement this ban.
Earlier this month, HRC, Lambda Legal, OutServe-SLDN, the American Military Partner Association, and Gender Justice League unveiled a new television ad entitled "Patriots" featuring military, national security, and bipartisan officials voicing opposition to the Trump-Pence administration's ban on transgender service members. The television ad is part of the largest paid media campaign against Donald Trump's ban on transgender troops since he tweeted the policy last July and complements a full page print ad that ran in USA Today and more than 32 regional Gannett papers nationwide.
An overwhelming majority of Americans support open service of transgender service members. In July of 2017, the Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted down an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have barred transgender servicemembers from accessing medically necessary transition related care. Following the president's series of tweets in July of 2017, national security leaders and members of Congress from both parties condemned the policy:
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said, "when less than one percent of Americans are volunteering to join the military, we should welcome all those who are willing and able to serve our country."
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) said, "if individuals are willing to put on the uniform of our country, be deployed in war zones, and risk their lives for our freedoms, then we should be expressing our gratitude to them, not trying to kick them out of the military."
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) said, "we should not turn anyone away who is willing and able to serve our country, period. The president's wrong."
Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) said, "you ought to treat everybody fairly and give everybody a chance to serve."
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said, "I don't think we should be discriminating against anyone. Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them."
Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, "thousands of transgender Americans are currently serving in uniform and there is no reason to single out these brave men and women and deny them the medical care that they require."
More than 50 retired Generals and Admirals released a joint statement warning the ban would degrade military readiness.
From Equality California:
Plaintiff in Lawsuit Challenging Trump's Transgender Service Member Ban, Condemns Attempted Purge of Transgender People from the Military
Executive Director Rick Zbur: "No matter what the White House calls it, this is the same unpatriotic, unlawful ban."
LOS ANGELES Following the White House's announcement of President Trump's plan to implement his discriminatory transgender military ban, Equality California Plaintiff in the lawsuit Stockman v. Trump, which challenges the ban released the following statement from Executive Director Rick Zbur:
"At a time when our nation faces serious threats around the world, it's baffling that President Trump remains focused on undermining our military by ripping thousands of distinguished service members from their posts. No matter what the White House calls it, this is the same unpatriotic and discriminatory ban that four federal courts have stopped from moving forward. All enlistees and service members should be subject to the same standards, and those who meet the standards should be allowed to serve openly and authentically. Period."
The four separate federal court injunctions temporarily blocking the transgender military ban, which was first announced via Twitter and then in an August 25 memo, remain in place. The Department of Justice dropped its appeals of the four injunctions against the ban in late December. As a result, openly transgender people may enlist in the military and may serve under the military's existing (pre-ban) open service policy. Transgender servicemembers have been serving openly since June 2016 without issue, and there are thousands of transgender servicemembers bravely serving the nation with distinction.
The White House's arguments in favor of the ban have been debunked by high-ranking national security leaders across the political spectrum, including U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Richard Shelby (R-AL), Admiral Mike Mullen, former U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and former National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
Background on Stockman v. Trump:
Equality California, along with four active transgender service members in the United States military and three transgender individuals who wish to enlist in the military, are the Plaintiffs in Stockman v. Trump, one of the four pending challenges to the Trump Administration's ban on transgender service members. In November 2017, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra successfully intervened in the case to allow the State of California to join as co-Plaintiff. The National Center for Lesbian Rights, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and Latham Watkins LLP are representing Equality California and the other Stockman v. Trump Plaintiffs. The original complaint, filed on September 5, 2017, is available at the link: www.eqca.org/wp-content/uploads/Filed_Complaint.pdf ..
From NCLR, GLAD:
Trump Announces Plan for Implementing His Transgender Military Ban
Today's announcement has no immediate impact, as four federal courts have already prohibited the ban from taking effect, say NCLR and GLAD, the legal organizations leading the fight against Trump's ban
WASHINGTON, DCToday the Trump administration released implementation plan details for Trump's transgender military ban. The plan has no immediate effect, as four federal courts have already issued nationwide preliminary injunctions stopping his ban from moving forward. This plan singles out transgender servicemembers and would result in the loss of highly qualified and trained troops.
"This Trump-Pence plan categorically bans transgender people from service, with no legitimate basis. It requires the discharge of trained, skilled troops who have served honorably for decades. It's a gross mischaracterization of transgender people, and it's bad for our military," said Jennifer Levi, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) Transgender Rights Project Director
"This is exactly the discriminatory, categorical ban that four federal courts have already barred from going forward. This is just the sort of baseless attack on dedicated service members we have come to expect from this administration, and we will continue to fight this shameful ban vigorously in federal court," said Shannon Minter, National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Legal Director
President Trump announced his transgender military ban last summer, first via Twitter and then in an August 25 memo to the Secretary of Defense in which he set out March 23, 2018 as the date for full implementation of his ban. Four legal challenges have been brought against the ban, and in each a federal judge has prevented it from moving forward.
Transgender servicemembers have been serving openly since June 2016 without issue, and there are currently thousands of transgender servicemembers serving with distinction. Four federal courts have issued preliminary injunctions blocking the ban and ordering the administration to maintain the existing open service policy, including processing new transgender recruits, which began January 1. The Department of Justice dropped its appeals of the four injunctions against the ban in late December, and those injunctions remain in place as legal proceedings continue.
Nearly 50 former military leaders and national security officialsincluding two former Secretaries of Defense, the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the former Director of the National Security Agency have criticized the ban conclusively stating there is no basis for it.
To access a copy of the Trump administration announcement on the transgender military ban released today, click here.
NCLR and GLAD have been at the center of the legal fight challenging President Trump's military ban since filing Doe v. Trump, the first of four cases filed against the ban, on August 9.
From The Williams Institute:
Over 15,000 Transgender People Currently Serving in the US Armed Forces
A forthcoming study finds transgender and cisgender veterans are similar in regard to mental and physical health.
LOS ANGELES The Department of Defense announced today a policy to prevent transgender people from serving in the U.S. military, citing risks to military effectiveness and lethality and unit cohesion.
According to research from the Williams Institute, an estimated 15,500 transgender adults are serving in the US military, including 8,800 on active duty and 6,700 in the National Guard or Reserves. In addition, there are approximately 134,300 transgender veterans.
A forthcoming Williams Institute study using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found few health differences between transgender and cisgender veterans. Researchers compared 13 indicators of mental and physical health, such as substance use, exercise, access to health care and depression, for both transgender and cisgender veterans.
Preliminary data shows that transgender veterans differed only in their likelihood to have at least one disability and to have experienced mental distress in the past 30 days. However, transgender veterans were found to have higher rates of poverty than cisgender veterans, which may at least in part contribute to the observed health differences.
"When we look at veterans, transgender and cisgender veterans look pretty similar to each other in regard to health," says Jody L. Herman, a scholar of public policy at the Williams Institute. "This could be due to the fact that protocols that determine who can enter military service have been working equally well over the years for transgender and cisgender individuals."
In terms of unit cohesion, preliminary qualitative data from the Military Acceptance Project, a $1.8 million study funded by the U.S. Department of Defense focused on understanding integration of LGBT people into the military, finds that transgender service members have an intense commitment to their country and the U.S. military. In addition, many have experienced acceptance from their peers and superiors.
"The idea that transgender service members are disruptive is unfounded," says Ian W. Holloway, visiting scholar at the Williams Institute and co-principal investigator of the Military Acceptance Project. "Eighteen countries, including the UK and Germany, allow transgender people to serve openly in the military and none report a negative impact on operational preparedness or unit cohesion."
Palm Center Statement on Trump's Transgender Military Ban
SAN FRANCISCO, CA Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin released the following statement about the Trump Administration's reinstatement of the transgender military ban:
"Today's announcement fulfills President Trump's July 2017 tweet calling for the reinstatement of the transgender military ban. In service to the ideological goals of the Trump-Pence base, the Pentagon has distorted the science on transgender health to prop up irrational and legally untenable discrimination that will erode military readiness. There is no evidence to support a policy that bars from military service patriotic Americans who are medically fit and able to deploy. Our troops and our nation deserve better."