Today, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation’s largest organization of LGBTQ military families, strongly condemned the Trump-Pence administration’s implementation of a transgender military ban. The ban goes into effect today, April 12, 2019.
“With the implementation of this transgender military ban, our nation is once again shamefully forcing brave American heroes to hide who they are in order to serve,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “By dragging us backward into the dark days of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ the Trump-Pence administration is inflicting tremendous harm on our service members, their families, and the military as a whole. Thousands of transgender service members and qualified recruits are willing to risk their very lives for our nation, and we will not stop fighting to reverse this unconscionable ban until they are once again able to serve openly and authentically as they deserve.”
Key answers to frequently asked questions by transgender service members and recruits are available here. Service members in need of legal assistance should immediately call the OutServe-SLDN Legal HelpDesk at 1-800-538-7418.
Further background information and key facts about the transgender military ban are included below, courtesy of the Palm Center.
Background: On Jun. 30, 2016, the U.S. military began allowing transgender people to serve openly after an exhaustive review determined there was no valid reason for a ban. On Jul. 26, 2017, President Trump tweeted that DOD would reinstate the transgender ban, and on Aug. 25 he issued a memo ordering then-Defense Sec. James Mattis to submit an implementation plan. On Mar. 23, 2018, President Trump accepted a plan from Sec. Mattis that continued to target all 14,700 transgender troops. The Trump-Mattis ban has not yet been implemented because court injunctions have blocked its enforcement.
Latest Developments: On Jan. 22, 2019, the Supreme Court granted the Trump administration’s request to allow the Pentagon to ban transgender Americans from military service while legal challenges continue—for months or years. The ruling allowed, but did not require, reinstatement of the ban by DOD, which was given discretion by President Trump “to implement any appropriate policies concerning military service by transgender individuals.” On Mar. 26, the last court injunction blocking the ban was lifted when the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order allowing reinstatement. DOD has announced that the ban will go into effect Apr. 12, 2019 under DTM 19-004, a new regulation issued Mar. 12 that, as this Palm Center memo explains, makes clear the policy will operate as a ban on transgender service.
The following facts should guide discussion as the nation weighs the issue of transgender service:
- Inclusive policy has been successful for almost 3 years.
- The Trump ban affects all 14,700 transgender troops, just as “don’t ask don’t tell” injured every gay and lesbian service member.
- There is no valid medical or military rationale for the ban.
- Reinstating the ban would harm military readiness.
- Transgender Americans have always served in our military and have been serving openly, under an inclusive policy, since Jun. 2016.
- DOD data confirm that hundreds of transgender troops have deployed to combat zones.
- All five military Chiefs of Staff have testified that inclusive policy has caused no readiness issues, with JCS Chairman-designate Gen. Mark Milley reporting “precisely zero” problems.
- Transgender troops have consistently earned praise from their commanders, including Air Force Staff Sergeant Ashleigh Buch, whose commander said, “She means the world to this unit; she makes us better,” and Marine Lance Corporal Aaron Wixson, whose commander said, “We are lucky to have such talent in our ranks and will benefit from his retention.”
- Eighteen foreign militaries allow transgender troops to serve, and none has reported any compromise to readiness.
- 14,700 transgender troops currently serve in the Active Component and Reserves, according to Palm Center analysis of DOD figures.
- The Trump ban targets 100% of these patriotic Americans, creating a “don’t ask, don’t tell” for transgender troops. Like that failed policy, the transgender ban targets and stigmatizes a whole class of people while masquerading as an even-handed regulation of fitness.
- No one will be allowed to come forward to transition gender once the ban begins. Banning gender transition is thus a proxy for banning transgender people, forcing them to give up their identity as a condition of service.
- Transgender troops—all of them—will be the only military personnel denied their statutory entitlement to proper medical care as determined by military doctors.
- In addition to confirmation by Service Chiefs that inclusive service has succeeded, a major report by retired military Surgeons General found that the Mattis plan’s rationale for exclusion “is contradicted by ample evidence clearly demonstrating that transition-related care is effective, that transgender personnel… are deployable and medically fit, that inclusive policy has not compromised cohesion and instead promotes readiness, and that the financial costs of inclusion are not high.”
- The nation’s major medical and mental health organizations have repudiated the administration’s rationale for a transgender ban, with the American Medical Association stating that “there is no medically valid reason” to ban transgender troops, and the American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association rejecting any medical rationale for a ban.
- Both DOD and the RAND Corporation exhaustively studied transgender military service in 2016 and concluded it does not harm readiness. RAND summarized its findings by stating that “evidence from foreign militaries and the U.S. military has indicated no significant impact on unit cohesion or operational readiness as a result of allowing transgender and gay and lesbian personnel to serve openly.”
- The financial costs of transition-related care do not justify a ban. DOD reported that the total cost of transition-related care was only $2.2 million in FY 2017, which was less than one tenth of one percent of DOD’s annual health care budget for the Active Component, and roughly one twentieth of the $41.6 million the military spends each year on Viagra.
- The administration’s rationale for the ban echoes discredited arguments for earlier discrimination against minorities. In each case, warnings about damage to cohesion, privacy, and readiness turned out to be unfounded when inclusive policies failed to cause the predicted harms.
- Fifty-six retired Generals and Admirals warned that a ban would “degrade readiness, … cause significant disruptions, deprive the military of mission-critical talent, and compromise the integrity of transgender troops who would be forced to live a lie, as well as non-transgender peers who would be forced to choose between reporting their comrades or disobeying policy.”
- A panel of retired military Surgeons General released a 55-page report finding that banning transgender troops “harms readiness through forced dishonesty, double standards, wasted talent, and barriers to adequate care.” They conclude that a ban’s “requirement to serve in silence effectively forces troops to lie about their identity,” which “compromises military integrity.”
- Former U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Admiral John D. Hutson has warned that “uncertainty created by policy whipsaws is inherently bad for all service members” and that commanders “would be ill-served by having to implement yet another policy reversal” on transgender service.
- Scholars have consistently found that military discrimination harms readiness, including discrimination against African Americans, women, and gays and lesbians. As one study found, discrimination wastes talent, undermines cohesion, and damages the military’s reputation.