TLDEF Responds to President Trump's Announced Ban on Transgender Military Service

July 26, 2017


Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund Responds to President Trump’s Announced Ban on Transgender Military Service


New York, NY - Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund today responded to the statement by the President that "...the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," citing concerns that are clearly disproven by the evidence.


Statement from Transgender Legal Executive Director, Jillian Weiss


“Transgender people have always been in the military, and always will be. Studies show they serve in the military at about twice the rate of the rest of the population. What the President really means is that transgender people will not be allowed to be open about their service, and will have to serve in silence and fear, as gay and lesbian people did in previous years.


There are many important issues now facing our country. Jobs, infrastructure, immigration, access to healthcare and civil rights -- these are real issues. There are even serious questions at the highest levels of government about whether our elections have been tainted by foreign influences. Banning transgender people in the military is not one of these, and can only serve as a distraction from the real problems we face.


Transgender people have been and will continue to be loyal and effective service members protecting our country. The question isn't whether to have trans service members. The question is whether we treat them fairly, and with dignity. The United States was founded on the idea of fairness and equal protection of the law. We should do no less for our transgender service members. The President should reverse this dehumanizing decision immediately.


When the ban was lifted in 2016, the United States joined 18 other countries, including our close allies Australia, Canada, England, and Israel, in allowing transgender people to serve openly. It was an incredible moment for equality in our nation’s history. Today is a huge setback. Amanda Simpson, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy and the highest ranking openly transgender official in the Obama Administration, told TLDEF today:  ‘Our commander-in-chief has broken a long standing sacred trust and commitment with our service members who have pledged their lives to protect this country and have served with honor and distinction.’ TLDEF Board Member and Navy Veteran Alaina Kupec expressed similar concerns: ‘The President's decision to bar transgender citizens from selflessly serving their country is short sighted and based on politics and not facts. The recent Rand Survey disputes the disruption and cost the President alluded to in his tweet. The President's decision is yet another attempt for him to deflect attention away from issues that really matter to our Country, such as access to healthcare.  Once again, fear and ignorance of what it means to be transgender is used to advance discrimination.’


We commend all of the brave transgender men and women who have sacrificed their lives in silence and all those who are serving our country with distinction today. Like all members of the armed forces who continually put their lives on the line, transgender service members deserve the dignity that comes with serving openly.


Mr. President, allow transgender people to serve America.”