In a newly released letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a bipartisan group of 50 United States Senators led by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) — the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee — made clear their opposition to the transgender military ban and decried Secretary Mattis’ implementation recommendations.
The 50 Senators made clear that implementing a transgender military ban will harm our nation’s military and goes against the consensus from medical community and military leadership that transgender troops are physically and mentally able to serve. The Senators’ letter follows statements made in four recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearings by the chiefs of the Army, Navy, and Air Force and commandant of the Marine Corps asserting that open transgender service has had no negative effect on unit cohesion, discipline, or morale.
“The recommendations and report break faith with the men and women serving in our military by establishing a new “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” for transgender service members, permitting them to serve only if they are willing to forego any chance of living as their true selves,” the Senators wrote. “Just as our mistaken policy regarding lesbian, gay and bisexual service members harmed readiness and ultimately was repealed, the implementation of your recommendations will also harm our nation’s military. Accordingly, we are opposed to the implementation of this discriminatory policy.”
“The Senators who signed the letter to Secretary Mattis are rightly concerned that the Pentagon is taking aim at its own troops, and doing so on the basis of false and misleading claims about the research that shows that inclusion promotes readiness, and that transgender troops are as medically fit as their peers,” said Dr. Aaron Belkin, Director of the Palm Center.
As part of the requirements set out by President Trump after his announcement of a ban on transgender service, Secretary Mattis submitted to the President his recommendations on how to implement the President’s ban as well as a report from a panel he established to assess the issue. These documents were made public in a Department of Justice court filing on March 23, 2018, in Karnoski v. Trump — the case in which the American Military Partner Association is an organizational plaintiff.
The recommendations and report ignore the scientific consensus about transgender individuals’ physical and mental ability to serve in the military. The recommendations also contradict the recent statements by the four military service chiefs that open transgender service members have not affected good order and discipline or unit cohesion.
In the letter, the Senators decry the recommendations and urge Secretary Mattis to establish a fair policy that allows any Americans who are willing and capable of serving their country to join the military. The bipartisan letter was signed by Senators Gillibrand (D-NY) and Murkowski (R-AK), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), and Senators Baldwin (D-WI), Bennet (D-CO), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Brown (D-OH), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Carper (D-DE), Casey (D-PA), Collins (R-ME), Coons (D-DE), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Donnelly (D-IN), Duckworth (D-IL), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Harris (D-CA), Hassan (D-NH), Heinrich (D-NM), Heitkamp (D-ND), Hirono (D-HI), Jones (D-AL), Kaine (D-VA), King (I-ME), Klobuchar (D-MN), Leahy (D-VT), Markey (D-MA), McCaskill (D-MO), Menendez (D-NJ), Merkley (D-OR), Murphy (D-CT), Murray (D-WA), Nelson (D-FL), Peters (D-MI), Reed (D-RI), Sanders (I-VT), Schatz (D-HI), Shaheen (D-NH), Smith (D-MN), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT), Udall (D-NM), Van Hollen (D-MD), Warner (D-VA), Warren (D-MA), Whitehouse (D-RI), and Wyden (D-OR).
The full text of the Senators’ letter is available here.