One Year After Trump’s Trans Troop Ban Tweets, Trans Service Members Continue to Serve

by Sarah McBride

Despite a string of court victories for trans troops, Trump and Pence continue their crusade against brave transgender Americans willing to serve their country.

Today, HRC marked one year since Donald Trump’s spurious and hateful tweets announcing a ban on transgender troops on July 26, 2017. In the year since the tweets, HRC has fought beside transgender service members and partner organizations in Karnoski v. Trump, the federal lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN to oppose this president’s discriminatory policy in the courts, on the streets and in the media.

“One year ago, thousands of transgender service members and countless more potential recruits found their worlds turned upside down,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Despite Donald Trump and Mike Pence’s hateful efforts, brave transgender troops continue to demonstrate both their love of country and ability to serve. A grateful nation respects their service even if the commander-in-chief fails to do so, and the Human Rights Campaign will not rest until we ensure that every transgender person is treated with respect and fairness.”

“From day one of this administration, Donald Trump and Mike Pence have sought to license discrimination against the LGBTQ community, particularly transgender people,” said HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride. “Donald Trump and Mike Pence’s despicable attempt to mandate discrimination in our military, America’s largest employer, is part of a broader effort to push transgender people back into the shadows and out of public life. From the bipartisan chorus of members of Congress to leading medical associations to several federal courts, every passing day we see further proof that this president’s policy is animus-fueled, dangerous and unconstitutional.”

“After the tweetban was issued, Lambda Legal and Outserve-SLDN flew into action. We promised we would take action if the policy was enacted and we did,” said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Sasha Buchert. “Today, I think it’s also important to underscore another anniversary; that day just over two years ago when the ban on open transgender military service was lifted. The only thing that has happened as a result of allowing open transgender military service is that transgender service members are serving our country with honor, dignity and distinction.”

Following Trump’s initial tweets, HRC joined six currently serving members of the armed services, three individuals who seek to enlist, the American Military Partners Association (AMPA) and Washington state’s Gender Justice League as co-plaintiffs in Karnoski v. Trump, one of four federal lawsuits filed challenging the ban. Since then, seven federal courts - including, most recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit - have barred the Trump-Pence Administration from implementing the ban.

Despite the string of court victories for transgender troops and recruits, the Trump-Pence administration has continued to appeal the rulings in an effort to force their extreme anti-LGBTQ agenda on the U.S. military.

Yesterday, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services’ Subcommittee on Personnel, and Representative Adam Smith (D-WA), ranking member of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, joined representatives from HRC, Lambda Legal, Outserve-SLDN, and AMPA for a press call on the current state of the ban. An audio recording of the press call can be found here.

Later today, members of Congress will utilize Donald Trump’s social media platform of choice, Twitter, for a “tweet up” organized by HRC and Lambda Legal. Participants will show their support for transgender troops on Twitter beginning at 11 AM by utilizing #TransBanTweetUp.

Since the president’s initial tweets, 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.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Joni Ernst (R-IA) Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and John McCain (R-AZ),  have stated their support for transgender troops. In March, HRC, Lambda Legal, Outserve-SLDN, AMPA and Gender Justice League unveiled a television ad title “Patriots” featuring many of those voices speaking out against the policy.

To learn more about HRC’s work on transgender equality, visit