One day ahead of the implementation of Donald Trump and Mike Pence’s ban on transgender people serving in the military, HRC recommitted to fighting the dangerous and discriminatory policy until it is defeated once and for all.
“At this difficult moment for transgender service members and those wishing to serve their country, every transgender patriot should know that a grateful nation supports you,” said HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride. “The Trump-Pence transgender troop ban is dangerous for both transgender people and our national security, which is why a bipartisan chorus of members of Congress, leading military experts and overwhelming majorities of Americans oppose this despicable policy. The fact that a service member who came out on Thursday can continue to serve openly while a service member who comes out on Monday can’t only reinforces the cruel and arbitrary nature of this ban.”
Following Donald Trump’s initial tweets announcing his intention to ban qualified transgender people from serving in the military, HRC joined six active members of the armed services, three individuals seeking to enlist, the American Military Partners Association (AMPA) and Washington state’s Gender Justice League as co-plaintiffs in Karnoski v. Trump, filed by Lambda Legal and Outserve-SLDN, one of four federal lawsuits filed challenging the ban.
Despite the string of court victories for transgender troops and recruits in federal district and circuit courts, the U.S. Supreme Court recently stayed the preliminary injunctions that had been blocking the Trump-Pence administration from implementing their discriminatory ban while the cases make their way through federal courts. Last month, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that they would begin discharging openly transgender service members who come out on or after April 12, 2019. Beginning on that day, the administration will also forbid capable openly transgender patriots from enlisting.
While the administration will begin discriminating against transgender troops and enlistees, the cases challenging the unconstitutional policy will continue to make their way through the federal courts.
“For more than two years, transgender people have been serving in the military openly and honorably,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The implementation of Donald Trump and Mike Pence’s trans troop ban is a stain on our nation’s history. While the immediate harm of this policy is significant, we will continue to fight in the courts, on the streets and at the ballot box for dignity and fairness for all transgender people.”
A diverse range of voices have opposed banning transgender people from serving in the military. Thirty-three former national security experts and military leaders, the American Medical Association and the NAACP filed briefs in support the cases filed to halt the Trump-Pence ban. In testimony before Congress, all four service branch chiefs stated that open service for transgender patriots had not inhibited military readiness or unit cohesion. Former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen (ret.), recently penned a powerful piece supporting open service for transgender troops and opposing the administration’s arbitrary and animus-fueled policy.
On Sunday, Charlotte Clymer, HRC’s Press Secretary for Rapid Response, delivered a poignant and moving video op-ed on CBS’s Sunday Morning:
"Every casket and transfer case I carried was covered by an American flag. Every single one. And that is all I remember about any of them. I never knew their race. I never knew their religion or education or birthplace." - @cmclymer to @CBSSunday on the #TransMilitaryBan. pic.twitter.com/hUiKcfketV— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) April 8, 2019
Clymer joined fellow veterans, currently serving transgender patriots and advocates on Capitol Hill yesterday for a rally with members of Congress in opposition to the Trump-Pence troop ban. Late last month, a bipartisan majority in the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of a resolution opposing the unconstitutional and harmful policy. The resolution was sponsored by U.S. Representative Joseph Kennedy, III (D-MA). The final vote was 238-185, with five Republicans joining all Democrats in voting in favor of the resolution, and one member voting “present”.
The vote came just weeks after five brave transgender service members - Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, Army SSgt. Patricia King and Navy Petty Officer Third Class Akira Wyatt - testified before the U.S. House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel.
To learn more about HRC’s work combatting discrimination against transgender people, visit HRC.org/transgender.