More than two dozen retired military officers have signed a joint statement in response to the recent reinstatement of the transgender military ban by the Trump administration calling it “a troubling move backward.”
In the statement, published on Tuesday by The Palm Center which researches gender, sexuality, and the military, 26 retired officers wrote that “there is simply no reason to single out brave transgender Americans who can meet military standards and deny them the ability to serve.” Notable signatures included that of former surgeon general of the Navy Donald Arthur and retired three-star Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy.
Likening the new order to the commonly criticized “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of the Clinton era, the retired officers claimed that it would force troops to “hide in the shadows.”
“Under the newly announced policy, most transgender individuals either cannot serve or must serve under a false presumption of unsuitability, despite having already demonstrated that they can and do serve with distinction,” they said. “They will now serve without the medical care every service member earns, and with the constant fear of being discharged simply for who they are.”
The statement was written after a memo issued by President Donald Trump banning most transgender people from serving in the military was released on Friday.
In a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that “this new policy will enable the military to apply well-established mental and physical health standards – including those regarding the use of medical drugs – equally to all individuals who want to join and fight for the best military force the world has ever seen.”
The president’s memo was released alongside a recommendation by Secretary of Defense James Mattis to Donald Trump regarding “Military Service by Transgender Individuals.” In the recommendation, Mattis claimed that after reviewing “information on gender dysphoria, the treatment of gender dysphoria,” a panel of experts and the Department of Homeland Security determined that allowing transgender troops would “impose an unreasonable burden on the military that is not conducive to military effectiveness and lethality.”
The recommendation would allow the military to accept new transgender recruits only if they have not had any symptoms of gender dysphoria for 36 months while identifying as their biological sex. Individuals who identify as transgender but have not been diagnosed with gender dysphoria may also join under their biological sex. Those that have joined before the new policy goes into effect will be grandfathered.
This is not the first time the Trump administrated attempted to reinstate the ban. In June, Trump tweeted that the “United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” He had officially allowed Mattis to reinstate the ban then but this was put on hold after several federal injunctions challenged it. One injunction was won by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson who claimed the order causes irreparable harm to transgender individuals and will be soon be heard in a Seattle court.
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