McEachin, Kennedy, Jayapal & 140+ Representatives Urge Trump to Reverse Transgender Military Ban

August 29, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Representatives A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), Joe Kennedy III (MA-04), and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) along with Whip Hoyer, Assistant Democratic Leader Clyburn, Caucus Chair Crowley and more than 140 Representatives sent a letter to President Trump urging him to reverse his ill-advised transgender military ban.

“Implicitly, your ban denies the value of transgender servicemembers, and it questions the professionalism of those who serve beside them. Our Armed Forces have grown more equal and more inclusive over time, often in the face of strident opposition,” wrote the Representatives. “In 1948, when President Truman moved to racially integrate the military, voices were raised in protest. They were raised again in 2010, when Congress at last repealed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ At every turn, those voices have been proven wrong."

President Trump has incorrectly stated that transgender servicemembers cause a “disruption” or “burden” to the military. A 2016 study conducted by the RAND Corporation — a nonpartisan, nonprofit military think tank founded by the U.S. Air Force — suggested that allowing transgender individuals to serve openly would have “no significant impact on unit cohesion or operational readiness.”

The Representatives cite barring Americans’ future service to their country; potentially forcing the discharge of active duty servicemembers; and lack of evidence to support claims of medical costs as additional reasoning for reversing the ban on transgender individuals serving in the Armed Forces.

Last month, President Trump announced his desire to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military in a series of tweets. Last Friday, he signed a directive formally issuing the baseless ban.

Full letter text is here and below.

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Contact: Jamitress Bowden
202-225-6365

 

August 29, 2017

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Mr. President:

We urge you to reconsider your ban on transgender individuals serving in our country’s military. There is no place for discrimination in our Armed Forces or indeed anywhere else in American society. Enforcing your ban could mean discharging active duty soldiers, sailors, Marines, and members of the Air Force who are serving honorably.[1] It also would mean barring other patriotic Americans from serving in the future. Both actions are detrimental to our national security, ill-advised, and contrary to the values upon which our nation was built.

There are thousands of active-duty transgender servicemembers.[2] Contrary to your rhetoric, their service has not caused “disruption” or “burdened” the military. Rather, their sacrifices have made our nation safer and stronger. Transgender servicemembers wear the same uniform and complete the same missions as their cisgender peers. In combat, their lives are in equal peril. They serve with equal distinction; they are equally deserving of our gratitude and respect.

Implicitly, your ban denies the value of transgender servicemembers, and it questions the professionalism of those who serve beside them. Our Armed Forces have grown more equal and more inclusive over time, often in the face of strident opposition. In 1948, when President Truman moved to racially integrate the military, voices were raised in protest. They were raised again in 2010, when Congress at last repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” At every turn, those voices have been proven wrong. Again and again, members of excluded groups have shown that they can serve with distinction; again and again, the military has proved that it can be a respectful home for all.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has said the Department of Defense should “measure each policy decision against one critical standard: will the decision affect the readiness and lethality of the force?”[3] Based on that standard, we see no rational basis to prevent transgender Americans from serving. A 2016 study conducted at the request of the Department of Defense by the RAND Corporation — a nonpartisan, nonprofit military think tank founded by the U.S. Air Force — suggested that allowing transgender individuals to serve openly would have “no significant impact on unit cohesion or operational readiness.”[4] Meanwhile, your ban would be highly disruptive and have an adverse effect: it would shrink the pool of available recruits and deny our military access to the skills, expertise, and experience of qualified servicemembers.

There is also no evidence to support your claim about the “tremendous medical costs” associated with transgender servicemembers. The same RAND Corporation study suggests that if transgender individuals were officially allowed to serve openly, the annual cost of resultant gender transition-related medical costs would likely not exceed $8.4 million.[5] This is less than one-hundredth of one percent of the military’s nearly $50 billion health care budget. Or, for comparison, roughly equal to the cost to taxpayers of four of your weekend trips to Mar-a-Lago resort.[6]

We have strong concerns about the process by which your ban was created. We are troubled by your apparent refusal to appropriately consult with relevant advisors, experts, or military leaders. News reports have characterized your ban as a “snap decision”[7] that “caught [the Pentagon] off guard.”[8] Decisions that touch on national security demand careful consideration and responsible debate; anything less endangers the American people.

Finally, we are deeply concerned about the clear unconstitutionality of your ban. As existing case law makes clear, the government cannot discriminate against transgender people on the basis of their status or sex – and the military is not exempt from constitutional requirements. It is not clear to us that your administration has reckoned with these realities.

We urge you again to join us in honoring all those who protect our nation; to fully respect the rights of the citizens you serve; and to reconsider the ill-advised and indefensible policy that you have moved to implement.

Sincerely,

[1] https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_briefs/RB9900/RB9909/RAND_RB9909.pdf

[2]  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/26/us/politics/trump-transgender-military.html

 

Issues: