Donald Trump, who promised to “fight for” the LGBT community, announced via Twitter today that he will ban all transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. (Perhaps he doesn’t know what the “T” in LGBT stands for?)
In a series of tweets, Trump said the United States “will not accept or allow… transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” He added:
Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming… victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.
You’re not welcome.
President Obama had allowed trans people to serve openly in the military, but Defense Secretary James Mattis recently delayed enacting those policies. Now it looks like they’ve been thrown out wholesale.
A group called “Vets Against Trump” responded to the tweets, calling the move to limit trans rights “shameful and wrong.”
Here is the reality… Transgender Americans are ALREADY serving in uniform, honorably and effectively.
— Vets Against Trump (@Vets_Vs_Trump) July 26, 2017
“Here is the reality… Transgender Americans are ALREADY serving in uniform, honorably and effectively. What you are proposing is to put back in place “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a policy which hurt the military, and caused witch hunts of troops. This is horrifically un-American, and hurts the military.”
They are correct. Statistics from the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute shows an estimated 150,000 transgender people have served in the U.S. armed forces or are currently on active duty.
“In addition, an estimated 134,000 transgender individuals are veterans or are retired from Guard or Reserve service, 8,800 transgender adults are currently on active duty in the U.S. armed forces, and an estimated 6,700 transgender individuals are serving in the Guard or Reserve forces.”
What does this mean for all those trans people already in the military? Well, I suppose they’ll have to leave or once again go back to living a dangerous lie in unwelcome territory.
You have to wonder where this order is really coming from. Evangelical leaders who have been pushing for a trans ban in the military have also boasted about having unprecedented access to this President, and the military already researched the issue under Obama, so why should we believe this is about saving money or preventing “disruption”? Is Trump saying our military is failing right now despite all the trans people serving?
It seems like nothing more than another attempt by Trump to shore up his base — evangelicals who, in large part, believe being transgender is morally wrong. Which means Trump is even willing to kick out men and women who serve in our military to appease the Christian Right. Sure, they’re willing to give their lives for this country, but Trump cares more about votes from evangelicals.
The backlash is swift and fierce… from everyone outside the Christian Right.
The American Humanist Association said Trump is “dragging America backward“:
“President Trump is dragging America backward with his attacks on transgender patriots in the military,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association.
“There is little justification to oppose open Transgender service as well as full health care support for servicemen and veterans for full sexual reassignment,” said Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers. “This order serves to harm military readiness and deeply insults already-serving transgender patriots in the military.”
The Center For Inquiry was short and blunt on Twitter:
Cruel, backward, bigoted, ignorant. https://t.co/CZvvCyEms6
— Center for Inquiry (@center4inquiry) July 26, 2017
They elaborated later:
“Trump is singling out transgender Americans, a long-maligned group that is just now making significant gains toward equal treatment, to reward his supporters in the religious right who wish to stand against that progress,” said Robyn Blumner, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “President Trump has provided no justification as to why he would think the presence of transgender servicemembers would somehow threaten the military’s ability to defend the United States.”
“What the president has done today is a step backward in efforts to ensure equality for all Americans,” said Blumner. “We stand proudly with the transgender community as an ally in the fight for equal treatment.”
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which is not a strictly atheistic group, also condemned Trump’s callous treatment of military personnel. Said President Mikey Weinstein:
“The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) condemns in the most effusive and strongest manner possible the base, evil, vile, idiotic, bigoted and counterintuitive decision by Trump, the current 5-time draft dodging, “bone spur alleging” occupant of the White House, to ban all transgender human beings from being allowed to honorably serve their country in the United States armed forces.
MRFF presently represents over 51,300 sailors, soldiers, marines and airmen in their brutal civil rights fight against fundamentalist Christian religious extremism and oppression in America’s military. Nearly 1,000 of MRFF’s clients are LGBTQ of whom 12 are transgender armed forces members who are either on active duty or in the reserves.“
American Atheists President David Silverman called it “cruel and disgusting“:
The President is attacking trans members of our nation’s military, men and women who are already serving openly and bravely, as a way of shoring up his support among anti-equality religious bigots. This is a purely partisan decision that has no basis in fact or reality.
Despite the President’s assertions, the Department of Defense and military leaders have affirmed that allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military has no impact on readiness and almost no added financial cost.
That President Trump would expel thousands dedicated, brave, and patriotic Americans who want to serve their country as a way to appease religious extremists speaks volumes. Using transgender service members as a political football is cruel and disgusting.
If you or someone you know is a trans person serving for this country, the ACLU wants to hear from you.