Just over a week after Donald Trump declared that “the US Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in the military, in any capacity“, his ban was approved as policy last night, by the White House Counsel’s office.
Trump reportedly signed off on the directive, which will now be sent to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, for implementation. As Mattis orders the “transgender service phase out” policy to be carried out, the implications for approximately 15,000 active-duty and reserve transgender soldiers and sailors are significant and ominous. A Pentagon source familiar with the new doctrine said, “the administration wants to get rid of transgender service members as fast as they can“.
The plan calls for forced early retirement of older transgender troops, non-renewal of service for enlisted as their contracts end, and summary discharges for all transgender officers as their promotions come due. Several LGBTQ advocates noted that the Trump edict would immediately “create a hostile work environment” for these soldiers and sailors, who are currently stationed all over the world.
OutServe-SLDN Director Michael Thorn decried the policy in a written statement, saying, “The President’s order to remove transgender service members from the United Stares Armed Forces, is nothing less than a purge.” Thorn indicated that his organization would be joining Lambda Legal in filing a federal lawsuit to stop the ban from taking effect.
Cities across America, meanwhile, have openly condemned the White House’s actions, most recently in Philadelphia, where the Mayor’s Office joined OutServe in a publlc rally at City Hall in support of LGBTQ troops.
“Philadelphia will not stand for government-sanctioned bigotry and blatant transphobia,” said Mayor Jim Kenney, who expressed solidarity with trans service people. “We will continue to fight back to ensure people of trans experience have every possible right and protection under our laws.”
Admiral Paul Zunkuft, commanding the Coast Guard, had vowed to protect the 13 transgender sailors in his branch of the service, insisting he “would not break faith” with “our people doing meaningful Coast Guard work today.” Pentagon sources observed that Zunkuft’s words are likely career-ending, now that Trump’s Tweets are official Defense Department policy.
The White House has not released a timeline for the separation of affected troops from the military, or provided information on how, and in what status, the troops would be discharged.