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    Veterans Speak Out Against Transgender Military Ban

    On July 26, President Trump—communicating via his personal twitter account and not the official President Trump @POTUS account—wrote in a series of tweets: “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, 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”

    It remains to be seen what actually comes of Trump’s threat, especially since it was made via his own twitter account. This divisive president has an established pattern of using social media to go on the apparent offensive, leading to reactionary changes in media coverage. These media shifts, in turn, help to deflect attention from the numerous matters—reports of collusion with Russia for just a start—that would put his administration on the defensive.

    Transgender Law Center Executive Direct Kris Hayashi addressed such issues in a response:

    “President Trump today tweeted highly inaccurate and offensive statements about transgender people, citing the ‘disruption’ our existence creates to try to set military policy. Sadly, this is just one in a series of his attacks on our community—one of the most dangerous this week being his continued push to rob millions of people of health care, which would be a death sentence for many transgender people who rely on the Affordable Care Act for basic preventative care and life-saving treatment.”

    “While it’s far from clear that Trump can even set policy by tweet,” Hayashi added, “we know that he uses his tweets to distract from very real, disastrous policy moving forward in Congress, like the attack on our health care. Combined with his assaults on immigrants, people of color, Muslims, and so many other members of the transgender community, Trump’s actions today are just one more sign that he will do everything in his power to harm us. Transgender Law Center will not waver in our continued organizing and legal resistance to his agenda.”

    Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter also issued a statement:

    “Quality people in uniform are what make our military the finest fighting force the world has ever seen. I continue to maintain that what matters in choosing those who serve is that they are best qualified. To choose service members on other grounds than military qualifications is social policy and has no place in our military. There are already transgender individuals who are serving capably and honorably. This action would also send the wrong signal to a younger generation thinking about military service.”

    According to the data-gathering organization RAND, there are 2,500–7,000 transgender service members in active military duty. Another 1,500–4,000 are in the reserves. The estimate spans are so wide likely due, in part, to fear of coming out. It is unclear what could happen to these service members should trans individuals be banned from joining the military.

    Many other organizations and politicians, ranging from the National Center for Transgender Equality to California State Senator Scott Wiener, quickly issued statements denouncing Trump’s threats. Importantly, the largest progressive group of veterans in America, VoteVets, also took a public stance against the threatened ban. Their response was one of the first after the shock of Trump’s Wednesday tweet barrage.

    Iraq War veteran Will Fischer, who is the Director of Government Outreach for VoteVets, released the following on behalf of the influential organization:

    “Achieving military goals relies on the U.S. military having the very best Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Guard that we can have. To tell some of those best that they’re no longer allowed to serve hurts our ability to win. Further, it insults our professional military, implying they simply cannot handle diversity in the force.”

    “There was a great president who understood that—Harry Truman, who today (July 26), in 1948, desegregated our military. It is insulting that Trump is using this day, during ‘American Heroes Week’ at the White House, to ban thousands of heroes from service. Maybe Donald Trump’s time at a fake military school has skewed his view of the military. But for those of us who have served, transgender service is not a problem. In fact, when it allows the best into our military, it is an asset.”

    “Donald Trump, today, tweeted about needing decisive action to protect America. Oddly, when it comes to an actual attack on our very democracy, from Russia, Donald Trump has been nothing but limp. He is the last person who should be talking about decisiveness to protect America.”