BREAKING: HRC Condemns Trump-Pence Transgender Troop Ban Policy

by Sarah McBride

Military and national security officials, bipartisan elected leaders also oppose discriminatory ban.

HRC condemned the newly-released official Trump-Pence Administration policy attempting to implement Donald Trump’s discriminatory ban on transgender troops. Trump’s hastily tweeted troop ban, which has now been turned into official policy, is opposed by national security leaders, military officials, servicemembers’ organizations and bipartisan elected officials, including top Republicans in Congress.
“There is simply no way to spin it, the Trump-Pence Administration is going all in on its discriminatory, unconstitutional and despicable ban on transgender troops,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Donald Trump and Mike Pence are pushing their extreme anti-transgender prejudices onto the military over the overwhelming objections of bipartisan officials, national security leaders and the American public. We will never stop fighting this discriminatory policy until every current and future transgender service member is treated equally and respected fully for their bravery."
“The Trump-Pence Administration continues to double down on its cruel and unconstitutional ban on transgender troops,” said HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride. “From the first impulsive tweet, this policy has clearly been driven by an extreme anti-LGBTQ agenda rather than what is in the best interests of our troops and national security. Transgender people are enlisting and serving with distinction right now, and there is no legitimate reason to change that. Moreover, releasing this news under cover of darkness late on a Friday night means thousands of transgender troops will wake up tomorrow with their lives turned upside down. This couldn’t be more cowardly or wrong.”

This guidance seeks to implement the Twitter policy of Donald Trump to ban transgender people from serving or enlisting in the military. In August, HRC joined as an organizational co-plaintiff in Karnoski v. Trump, a case brought by Lambda Legal and Outserve-SLDN, challenging the ban in court. HRC is joined by the American Military Partner Association, Gender Justice League, and nine individuals as co-plaintiffs in the case. Six separate federal courts have issued rulings blocking implementation of the ban. Barring further court action, the administration cannot implement this ban. 

Earlier this month, HRC, Lambda Legal, OutServe-SLDN, the American Military Partner Association, and Gender Justice League unveiled a new television ad -- entitled “Patriots” -- featuring military, national security, and bipartisan officials voicing opposition to the Trump-Pence administration’s ban on transgender servicemembers. The television ad is part of the largest paid media campaign against Donald Trump's ban on transgender troops since he tweeted the policy last July -- and complements a full page print ad that ran in USA Today and more than 32 regional Gannett papers nationwide.

An overwhelming majority of Americans support open service of transgender service members. In July of 2017, the Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted down an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act barring transgender servicemembers from accessing medically necessary transition related care. Following the president’s series of tweets in July of 2017, national security leaders and members of Congress from both parties condemned the policy:

  • Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said, “when less than one percent of Americans are volunteering to join the military, we should welcome all those who are willing and able to serve our country.”
  • Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) said, “if individuals are willing to put on the uniform of our country, be deployed in war zones, and risk their lives for our freedoms, then we should be expressing our gratitude to them, not trying to kick them out of the military.”
  • Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) said, “we should not turn anyone away who is willing and able to serve our country, period. The president’s wrong.”
  • Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) said, “you ought to treat everybody fairly and give everybody a chance to serve.”
  • Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said, "I don’t think we should be discriminating against anyone. Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them.”
  • Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “thousands of transgender Americans are currently serving in uniform and there is no reason to single out these brave men and women and deny them the medical care that they require.”
  • More than 50 retired Generals and Admirals released a joint statement warning the ban would degrade military readiness.