More than two-dozen retired military officers slam transgender troop ban

Matt Saintsing
March 28, 2018 - 11:24 am

U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Matthew A. Foster

26 retired generals and admirals are vehemently opposing the latest version of President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender troops serving in the military.

“The administration’s announcement on the treatment of transgender service members is a troubling move backward,” the former high-ranking military officers wrote in a statement from the Palm Center, a California think tank that researches gender and sexuality.

“There is simply no reason to single out brave transgender Americans who can meet military standards and deny them the ability to serve.”

The statement, released Tuesday, was signed by many of the same retired officials who released a statement opposing the Trump’s transgender ban in August, the first time the president tweeted it.  

Late Friday night, President Trump gave Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to pursue a new policy that would ban most transgender individuals from serving. Those who come out as transgender before the policy is enacted would be grandfathered in.

“Many of us personally experienced the belated removal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and faced firsthand how that mistaken policy set back our force and enabled discrimination against patriotic gay and lesbian Americans,” said the retired officers.

“We learned a clear lesson: the singling out of one group of service members for unequal treatment harms military readiness, while inclusion supports it.”

Mattis has declined to explain the proposal twice this week, saying that the policy “stands on its own.”

The policy is a 44-page study and proposal that Mattis sent to Trump, and at the moment it still remains a recommendation. That’s because, for now, the issue of transgender service members is still tied up in the court as a result of four federal lawsuits filed in Maryland, Washington, D.C., California and Washington state.

The Pentagon remains barred from officially changing its transgender policy while the cases proceed.

Details in the recommendation are murky, but we know that transgender troops who came out under the policy unveiled by the Obama administration in 2016 are grandfathered. So, they can remain in the military, enjoy all the same medical care and serve in their desired gender.

Those who require gender transition medical care, however, would not be allowed to join the military.

There are 8,980 transgender service members in the military, according to an anonymous workplace survey found in the recommendation.