US LGBTIQ advocates have blasted the Trump administration’s new policy banning most transgender people from military service.
On Friday evening, the White House announced in a memo that transgender people “with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria” requiring medication, surgery or other treatment would be disqualified from military service “except under certain limited circumstances,” CNN reported.
The White House said the policy was “developed through extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders” and the administration had concluded from expert advice that transgender troops present a “considerable risk to military effectiveness and lethality.”
But a Pentagon memo about the policy stated that exceptions to the ban would include people who have been “stable for 36 consecutive months in their biological sex prior to accession,” service members who “do not require a change of gender” and troops who started serving prior to the ban.
President Donald Trump first announced a blanket ban of transgender troops in a sudden series of tweets last July, reversing an Obama-era decision to allow them.
Federal courts subsequently demanded the ban be halted as legal challenges by LGBTIQ rights groups progressed, and in response, active trans troops were allowed to stay in the military and the Pentagon began allowing new trans people to enlist from January 1.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the new policy “will enable the military to apply well-established mental and physical health standards—including those regarding the use of medical drugs—equally to all individuals who want to join and fight for the best military force the world has ever seen.”
American Civil Liberties Union attorney Joshua Block said the announcement was “transphobia masquerading as policy”.
“This policy is not based on an evaluation of new evidence. It is reverse-engineered for the sole purpose of carrying out President Trump’s reckless and unconstitutional ban, undermining the ability of transgender service members to serve openly and military readiness as a whole,” he said.
“The policy effectively coerces transgender people who wish to serve into choosing between their humanity and their country, and makes it clear that transgender service members are not welcome.
“Transgender people in our military deserve more from their government than a myth-driven proclamation about their unfitness for full civic inclusion.”
Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin slammed the announcement and promised to continue fighting the anti-transgender policy.
“The Trump-Pence Administration is going all in on its discriminatory, unconstitutional and despicable ban on transgender troops,” he said.
“Donald Trump and Mike Pence are pushing their extreme anti-transgender prejudices onto the military over the overwhelming objections of bipartisan officials, national security leaders and the American public.
“We will never stop fighting this discriminatory policy until every current and future transgender service member is treated equally and respected fully for their bravery.”
US House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called the new policy “the same cowardly, disgusting ban” the president had previously announced and added it was intended to “humiliate” transgender people.
A spokesperson for the American Military Partner Association also criticized the Trump administrations “continued insistence on targeting military families” with the “appalling, reckless, and unpatriotic” measures.