President Donald Trump — Photo: DOD / Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro
Most transgender people will be banned from serving in the U.S. military, the Trump administration has announced.
According to the White House, which attempted to bury the transphobic announcement in a late Friday release, new Pentagon policy says that “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria — individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery — are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances.”
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders added that President Trump had abandoned his previous attempt to ban trans people from the military in order to allow this new policy to take effect. Sanders said the policy was developed by Pentagon officials under the supervision of Defense Secretary James Mattis.
There are a few exceptions to the ban, including those who have been “stable for 36 consecutive months in their biological sex prior to accession,” servicemembers who “do not require a change of gender,” and any active personnel who began service under President Obama.
LGBTQ groups have decried the announcement of the new policy, which comes after multiple court rulings struck down Trump’s attempt to ban transgender people from the military.
“President Trump has made a continuous effort to attack LGBTQ people and erase us from the fabric of our country, and the proposed transgender military ban is perhaps his cruelest and most egregious campaign,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD. “The majority of Americans support transgender military inclusion which has been proceeding seamlessly since it was first implemented, so we are left to assume that the Trump Administration’s intention here is solely to stoke the fires of bias and hatred in this nation.”
Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said the plan has “no basis in science, medicine, facts, or military readiness — only weak, after-the-fact justifications for President Trump’s irresponsible tweets.”
“Implementing this plan would cause needless chaos and expense for the military,” Keisling added, “and discard valuable personnel with critical skills, not because they can’t do their job but because of who they are.”
In a joint statement, NCLR and GLAD said the policy “singles out transgender servicemembers and would result in the loss of highly qualified and trained troops.”
Jennifer Levi, Transgender Rights Project Director for GLAD, said the policy had “no legitimate basis” and called it “a gross mischaracterization of transgender people, and it’s bad for our military.” Shannon Minter, NCLR’s Legal Director, added that it was “exactly the discriminatory, categorical ban that four federal courts have already barred from going forward,” and “just the sort of baseless attack on dedicated service members we have come to expect from this administration.”
The ACLU’s Joshua Block, a senior staff attorney, accused the White House of releasing “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,” Block said. “The policy effectively coerces transgender people who wish to serve into choosing between their humanity and their country, and makes it clear that transgender service members are not welcome.”
HRC’s Chad Griffin said the announcement signaled that the Trump Administration was “going all in on its discriminatory, unconstitutional and despicable ban on transgender troops,” adding, “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.”
Sarah McBride, HRC’s National Press Secretary, called it a “cruel and unconstitutional ban on transgender troops,” and slammed the late-night announcement of the new policy.
“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,” she said. “This couldn’t be more cowardly or wrong.”
Lambda Legal’s Senior Attorney Peter Renn called the policy “nothing more than a transparent ruse cobbled together with spittle and duct tape designed solely to try to mask discrimination.”
“A plan to implement an unconstitutional decree is an unconstitutional plan,” he added.
Gregory T. Angelo, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, who last month defended his assertion that Trump was the most pro-LGBTQ Republican president ever, said the announcement of the new policy represented a “confounding disconnect.”
“By allowing for the continued open service of current transgender soldiers, the Pentagon has essentially admitted that there is ultimately no difficulty with the status quo,” he said in a statement. “Preventing future accessions of transgender personnel suggests that this new policy has been reverse-engineered to achieve an outcome likely to succeed in little more than stoking culture wars. Log Cabin Republicans commends the brave LGBT military personnel who put their lives on the line to keep us free, and recommits to fighting for their freedoms.”