Logan Ireland – Photo: Jesse Ehrenfeld
Kimberly Moore has heard every argument against letting LGBT military members serve openly.
“I came into the service in 1994, and ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was immediately put in place,” says the retired Marines veteran. “If you talked to the old hats when I was enlisted, it was ‘This is going to be the death knell of the Marine Corps, because we can’t overtly ask those questions.’ Then when ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was repealed, I heard the same thing. ‘As soon as this happens, our readiness is going to suffer.’ It didn’t.
“The people that we’re recruiting now, 18-25-year-olds, it’s not an issue to them. They look at it as part of the fabric of their society. They’re proud to serve alongside an individual that’s gay or lesbian or even transgender,” she continue. “And the fact is it hasn’t really hurt readiness or morale because, quite honestly, LGBT people have served in the military for a very long time. And what it comes down to is how well can you do the job.”
That’s why Moore, an at-large member of the board of directors for Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA), found it ridiculous when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump suggested this week that allowing transgender military members to serve openly was “political correctness.”
Participating in a panel interview at the Retired American Warriors PAC, Trump was asked about the Obama administration’s “social experiments” of allowing women and transgender individuals to serve in the military. The questioner believed that it was hurting the “deployability, readiness and morale” of the military.
Trump did not refute the man’s assertions, but he also did not say he would reinstitute the ban on transgender service members. Instead, he simply referred to the Obama administration’s decisions to allow women and transgender people to serve in combat as “ridiculous,” sparking outrage from pro-LGBT military organizations and transgender military members.
“The Department of Defense changing the transgender ban has nothing to do with political correctness, and everything to do with doing right by [transgender] military members,” says Air Force Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland, one of the public faces of transgender service members impacted by the ban before its repeal on July 1. “This is an all-volunteer military, and we need our best capable people to serve in all branches of the DoD. So excluding a transgender person who is fully capable of serving, is not only doing them an injustice, but the military an injustice.”
Evan Young, a retired U.S. Army major and the president of TAVA, thinks Trump’s statement was “ridiculous.”
“It doesn’t surprise me anymore, what comes out of his mouth,” Young says. “He said he would leave the decision up to the generals that are there. Well, those are the people who reinstated the lifting of the ban in the first place, so he’s contradicted himself.
“It’s disturbing that somebody that would be put into office would take away the rights of people who served their country, and served honorably, and put their lives on the line for our freedoms. He’s a bigot, he’s a vile man, and he shouldn’t be left with the responsibility of leading our nation.”