The US military has confirmed that it has for the first time enlisted an openly transgender individual following a series of court rulings against Donald Trump’s ban.
On Monday, Maj. Dave Eastburn told CNN: “The Department of Defense confirms that as of February 23, 2018, there is one transgender individual under contract for service in the US Military.”
The individual, who has not been named, passed all the requirements to serve and has signed a contract with the military but has not yet begun basic training.
The date to allow transgender recruits was first set for July 1, 2017 following former President Obama’s 2016 decision to authorise transgender personnel in the military.
The date was pushed to the first day of 2018. It then appeared to be cancelled entirely when President Trump shocked the world in July last year by announcing on Twitter “that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military”.
This order, however, was quickly challenged in court in six cases, leading to several damning injunctions against the president’s attempt to impose the ban. As a result the enlistments went ahead as scheduled on the 1st of January 2018.
While there are an estimated 15 000 transgender people actively serving in the US military, they had historically not been allowed to enlist if they were open about their gender identity.
The news of the historic enlistment comes as various LGBTQ rights groups ran a full page ad in USA Today and other newspapers this week opposing the Trump-Pence administration’s efforts to ban transgender troops.
It features leading military, national security and bipartisan officials who agree that the policy is wrong and hurts military readiness.
The advertisement reads: “Military leaders, national security officials, bipartisan lawmakers in Congress and a majority of Americans oppose the Trump-Pence ban on transgender troops, which would hurt military readiness. Tell Donald Trump and Mike Pence not to put their politics ahead of our troops. Call the White House: 202-456-1414.”
The ad features quotes from both Republican and Democratic senators, including John McCain; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford; Former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus; Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen; Former Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning; Former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James; and General Martin Dempsey.
“Donald Trump’s erratic tweets and half-baked orders disrespect the bravery of countless transgender people who have fought and sacrificed for our country,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “It’s long past time the White House abandon this reckless, unconstitutional ban and give these brave individuals the dignity, respect and honor they deserve.”