WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced this morning that he was re-instating the ban on transgender Americans serving openly in the armed forces. In a series of tweets, President Trump said: “….please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow…Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you”.
Trump’s tweets make it unclear what will happen to the estimated 15,000 transgender service members already serving in the armed forces. The specifics of the policy changes remain unknown – the Pentagon referred requests for comment back to the White House, but noted it would “work closely with the White House to address the new guidance provided by the Commander-in-Chief….”
“Transgender Americans have put their lives on the line for our country for generations now. They serve for the same reasons as everyone else: because they love their country and cherish our values,” said Kasey Suffredini and Mason Dunn, co-chairs of Freedom for All Massachusetts. “It’s extraordinarily disappointing that our Commander-in-Chief is turning his back on those who sacrifice so much for our nation. Today’s tweets from President Trump make it clear that efforts to undermine legal equality for transgender individuals are strong at the federal level. No one who puts their lives on the line for our country should ever find themselves left in the cold by our president or our government. That’s why it’s more important than ever that we preserve and protect the measures we have in place at the state level in Massachusetts so that protections for transgender people are not stripped from our nondiscrimination law in 2018.”
The Obama Administration last year ended the ban on transgender Americans serving openly. Earlier this month, the Pentagon announced that the ban on transgender people enlisting in the armed forces would be extended until the end of this year. Just last week, the Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives rejected a discriminatory amendment that would have stripped transgender service members and their families of critical health care coverage.
In Massachusetts, full protections for transgender people from discrimination has been state law since 2016. The transgender public accommodations law now faces a 2018 ballot measure.
Freedom for All Massachusetts is the ballot committee working to defeat a 2018 ballot initiative that would repeal existing nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in public places like restaurants, retails shops and hospitals, and ensure that Massachusetts continues to be a national leader on equality and fairness for all.