Today, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation’s largest organization of LGBT military spouses and their families, responded to news that the White House has issued a directive in order to carry out President Trump’s transgender military ban. The outrageous and unprecedented policy indefinitely extends the ban on qualified transgender recruits from entering the military and rips away at least some medically necessary, transition-related health care from currently serving transgender troops. In implementing the ban, the directive gives Secretary of Defense James Mattis until February 21, 2018, to decide what to do with transgender service members who are currently in uniform.
“This horrifying, vicious assault on thousands of actively serving troops has turned from reckless tweets into an unabashedly discriminatory policy aiming to purge the military of thousands of transgender men and women,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “We unequivocally condemn this ban as an unpatriotic attack on currently serving troops and qualified transgender recruits who want to serve their country. It is imperative that Congress immediately takes action or a judge issues an injunction stopping this unprecedented assault from moving forward.”
Since June 2016, the Department of Defense has allowed transgender members of the armed forces to serve openly and authentically. Estimates show there are thousands of transgender individuals currently serving in the military. Implementation of the open service policy involved more than a year of planning, and the President’s decision to change the policy without formal review is the definition of arbitrary and capricious.
The people motivating this purge are the same people who have opposed LGBT equality in every corner of American life. Their end goal is to deny the reality that LGBT people exist by forcing them out of any place where they might be visible, and there is nothing that better communicates the commitment of LGBT people to American values than openly serving in the military.
The far majority of Americans believe transgender people should be allowed to serve, and the bipartisan outrage over the President’s ban has been swift and severe. Fifty-six retired generals and admirals warned that the ban, if implemented, would degrade military readiness. More than 50 House Armed Services, Judiciary, and LGBT Equality Caucus Democrats urged Secretary Mattis and the Joint Chiefs of Staff not to comply with an unconstitutional ban.
Military commanders have already gone on the record as being opposed to this move. CNN has reported that Secretary Mattis worked against efforts to impose this policy via the National Defense Authorization Act. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Joseph Dunford, issued a public statement that indicated policy would not be implemented on the basis of tweets. And the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Paul Zukunft, made a point to indicate that he would stand by transgender service members. None of these public statements are likely to have been made if the Pentagon supported the President’s position.