Metro Weekly

19 Attorneys General tell Congress to oppose transgender military ban

Letter asks Congress to add explicit transgender protections to the National Defense Authorization Act

Photo: Eric Draper, White House, via Wikimedia.

Attorneys general from 18 states and D.C. have written to a congressional committee to oppose President Trump’s proposed ban on transgender individuals in the Armed Forces.

The letter, sent to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, urges Congress to protect transgender service members through explicit language added to the National Defense Authorization Act, which is currently being debated.

The proposed language would prohibit discrimination against transgender individuals who are currently serving and reaffirms that they cannot be banned because of their gender identity.

“The policy announced by President Trump’s tweet undermines the national security goal of giving every able American who wants to serve in the military the opportunity to serve, creates untold bureaucratic and legal cost and complexities in implementation, and would put in place a policy that violates fundamental constitutional and American values,” they write.

“[W]hat is clear is that the President’s stated new ban reopens a closed issue, is contrary to advice provided by our military leadership, and is based on factual misstatements and discredited claims.”

In his tweet, Trump cited the “tremendous medical costs” associated with allowing transgender individuals to serve openly.

However, estimates from studies by the New England Journal of Medicine and the RAND Corporation have found that the cost of transition-related care for the estimated 15,000 transgender service members in the Armed Forces would be negligible, particularly in light of the military’s multi-billion dollar budget.

The attorneys general also point to a Department of Defense study that found that transgender service members do not harm unit cohesion or negatively impact military readiness, another claim made by President Trump and opponents of LGBTQ people serving openly in the military.

“The members of our Armed Forces put their lives on the line to protect freedom for all Americans. Thousands of transgender Americans serve in uniform today. This policy tells them, ‘You are not welcome here,'” the letter concludes. “The decision to oust honorable, well-trained, and patriotic service members based on nothing more than their gender identity is undiluted discrimination and therefore indefensible. We urge that this newly announced policy be immediately reversed.”

The letter was signed by attorneys general from Hawaii, New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington State, and Washington, D.C.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine issued his own statement touting his decision to sign onto the letter.

“Transgender men and women from the District, as well as thousands of others, have served bravely in our armed forces. They deserve honor and respect from the Commander-in-Chief,” Racine said. “When the President of the United States says dismissive and demeaning things about a vulnerable minority group, it has real — and negative — consequences for that group, and particularly for children who may be struggling with their gender identity.

“I’m proud that the District is one of the nation’s most welcoming jurisdictions for transgender people of all walks of life, and I pledge to continue working hard to ensure they get the protection and the respect they deserve.”

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