President Donald Trump issued a series of tweets Wednesday morning suggesting a ban on transgender people serving in the military.
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” he tweeted. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender [sic] in the military would entail. Thank you.”
Joanne Carroll, a transgender woman, is a retired Master sergeant of the Air Force and served 20 years on the Force.
“The President said he would be a best friend to our community, but day in and day out he has systematically done everything he can to disprove that," Carroll, who currently serves as the president of Equality Pennsylvania's Education Fund, said in a statement. "Just when transgender people were starting to feel recognized and safe enough to serve openly, he deflated that hope.”
In the same statement, Jennifer Long of Garden State Equality noted the tweets as "shocking and disappointing." The transgender veteran served 30 years in the Army as an infantry soldier, where she received a Bronze star for her service.
"Essentially the President is trying to fire 15,000 service members who serve in all kinds of capacities," Long said. "Job security is one of the things many service members count on to provide for themselves and their families, so these statements will cause a lot of stress.”
Local LGBT health and wellness organization Mazzoni Center noted in a blog post that "threatening to remove [transgender people] from service after they put their lives at risk undermines our military."
"We strongly oppose President Trump's action," the post stated. "We firmly believe that all Americans have the right to serve our country — straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, AND transgender Americans — to serve honorably, and to keep our country safe."
Victoria Rodríguez-Roldán, the National LGBTQ Task Force's Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Justice project director, noted that nearly one in five respondents to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, either currently serve or have served in the military.
“The US military represents one of the few ways for low-income and disenfranchised people, including trans people and people of color, to gain career skills and financial security both now and in the future. No one should be forced to choose between who they are and being able to keep their career,” Rodríguez-Roldán said in a statement.
Joshua Block, the senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & HIV Project, noted in a statement that “there are no cost or military readiness drawbacks associated with allowing trans people to fight for their country.”
“This is an outrageous and desperate action,” Block said. “The thousands of transgender service members serving on the front lines for this country deserve better than a commander-in-chief who rejects their basic humanity.”
Block added that the ACLU is currently looking at ways to combat any potential plans to roll back a policy that went into effect last year allowing open service by transgender military members. Another piece of the policy to permit enlistments by future trans military members was set to go into effect July 1 but was delayed by at least six months earlier this summer.
“There is no basis for turning trans people away from our military and the ACLU is examining all of our options on how to fight this,” he said. “For any trans service member affected by today’s announcement: Please get in touch with us because we want to hear from you.”
OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an LGBT nonprofit for service members and veterans, also issued a statement on the ban. The organization said it will be “taking the fight to Donald Trump in the federal court."
"In his latest example of pseudo-policy-by-Twitter, Donald Trump has shown blatant disregard for transgender service members, who have been serving openly since October 2016,” the organization said. “The disruptive burden to the military comes from indecision in a White House, which itself is not focused on victory if it’s targeting service members. The readiness, effectiveness and lethality of the armed services comes from the commitment of our troops – not the vagaries and bigotry of exclusionary policies.”
*This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
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