Tag Archives: Military

Joint Chiefs To Troops: No Change To Military’s Policy On Transgender Service Members

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced today that despite Donald Trump’s tweet to the contrary there has been no change yet to the military’s policy regarding transgender personnel.

In the message, which was sent to the chiefs of the military branches and senior enlisted leaders, Dunford said that the military will continue to “treat all of our personnel with respect.”

I know there are questions about yesterday’s announcement on the transgender policy by the President. There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance.”

In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect. As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions.”

About 15,000 transgender troops are currently serving openly in the United States military. In June of 2016, then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that already-serving transgender troops could come out without fear of discharge. He also established a plan to let openly transgender people enroll in the military within one year.

On Wednesday morning, however, Trump declared on Twitter that “the United States Government will not accept or allow” transgender individuals “to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” Trump’s proclamation raised the real possibility that the thousands of transgender troops in uniform might be purged.

But Trump made his announcement without consulting the Pentagon. He reportedly did not even discuss the issue with his Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, who has strongly supported open transgender service in the past. Trump’s sudden decision threatened to jettison years of careful planning and preparation on the part of the military.

It also left military leaders in a lurch, caught between the president’s tweets and formal policy. The Navy has clarified that, at least for now, transgender troops may still serve and receive transition-related medical care; Dunford’s letter makes clear that remains official policy in every branch of the armed forces.

Yesterday Senator John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee and a decorated war hero, criticized Trump’s social-media fiat.

The President’s tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.

The statement was unclear. The Department of Defense has already decided to allow currently-serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many are serving honorably today. Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military—regardless of their gender identity. We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so—and should be treated as the patriots they are.

The Department of Defense is currently conducting a study on the medical obligations it would incur, the impact on military readiness, and related questions associated with the accession of transgender individuals who are not currently serving in uniform and wish to join the military. I do not believe that any new policy decision is appropriate until that study is complete and thoroughly reviewed by the Secretary of Defense, our military leadership, and the Congress.

The Senate Armed Services Committee will continue to follow closely and conduct oversight on the issue of transgender individuals serving in the military.

 

Trump, With A Single Tweet, Bans Transgender People From Serving In The US Military

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to turn the page on years of Republican hostility to progress on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights by being an even better friend to the LGBTQ community than his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

He waved a rainbow flag. He denounced Clinton and her foundation for taking donations from ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, and warned the gay community after the Orlando massacre that Clinton’s immigration stance would bring “more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs”.

Then just weeks after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis ordered a six month review on the Defense Department’s transgender policy, Trump announced over Twitter that the government will not accept or allow transgender individuals in the military.

The move came as a total surprise to most people, even in his own party.

Like the travel ban before it, it was quickly released and poorly thought out. Announced on Twitter, with no detail to follow, the futures of thousands of people were thrown into doubt. Would those already serving in the US and abroad be discharged? When would this happen and how? Press secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders couldn’t say on Wednesday, and threatened to shut down the press briefing when reporters kept asking questions.

 Major advocacy groups depicted Mr Trump’s pronouncement as an appeal to the portion of his conservative base that opposes the recent civil-rights gains by the LGBT community.

Sarah Kate Ellis of GLAAD said:

President Trump today issued a direct attack on transgender Americans, and his administration will stop at nothing to implement its anti-LGBTQ ideology within our government – even if it means denying some of our bravest Americans the right to serve and protect our nation.

Today further exposed President Trump’s overall goal to erase LGBTQ Americans from this nation. Trump has never been a friend to LGBTQ Americans, and this action couldn’t make that any more clear.”

The Democrats said:

Right this moment, around the world, brave transgender service members are protecting the American people – including Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

While the White House claims to be celebrating ‘American Heroes’ week, the president and vice president are shoving real American patriots back in the closet and putting our nation’s security at risk.

Donald Trump said he would protect LGBTQ people, but today’s decision to ban transgender Americans from serving in the military proves his promise was another bald-faced lie.

Democrats stand with the transgender community and we will fight this administration’s bigotry tooth-and-nail. Those who defend our right to live freely should be able to serve freely.

This cowardly statement by Donald Trump shames our nation and its history of advancing diversity in our military – from the integration of African-Americans into the military by President Truman to President Obama’s ending of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell – and it is an insult to the millions of Americans who have courageously served our nation.”

The Human Rights Campaign attacked the White House for a “deeply troubling and patently unpatriotic assault on military families”.

The group added:

[Trump and Pence should] be working to ensure all service members and their families are getting the support and resources they need and deserve, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.”

Chad Griffin added:

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.

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.”

The President famously dodged the draft four times during the Vietnam war, and has never served in the military.

Trump’s new ban is reminiscent of rules that banned gay people from openly serving in the military.