In an impressive show of support for LGBT soldiers, 56 retired generals and admirals have warned President Trump that his planned ban on transgender military staff will damage the military.
Last week, Trump unexpectedly announced on Twitter that “the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military”.
He claimed that this was because the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
Shockingly, it’s believed that he made the decision without consulting or informing military leaders. The news was met with a backlash from politicians, including Republicans, and activists.
Now, in an open letter published on Tuesday, 56 top military officials warned that if the ban were to be implemented it “would cause significant disruptions [and would] deprive the military of mission-critical talent”.
It would, they advised further, “compromise the integrity of transgender troops who would be forced to live a lie, as well as non-transgender peers who would be forced to choose between reporting their comrades or disobeying policy.”
They said that such a ban would also “degrade readiness even more than the failed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy [which banned gay and lesbian military personnel and was repealed in 2011].”
The retired generals and admirals insisted that, “Patriotic transgender Americans who are serving—and who want to serve—must not be dismissed, deprived of medically necessary health care, or forced to compromise their integrity or hide their identity.”
They disagreed with Trump’s claim of transgender personnel leading to excessive financial costs and disruptions, describing them “to be without merit” and noting that studies had shown that such medical costs would be minimal.
“As for ostensible disruptions, transgender troops have been serving honourably and openly for the past year, and have been widely praised by commanders. Eighteen foreign nations, including the UK and Israel, allow transgender troops to serve, and none has reported any detriment to readiness,” the military veterans noted.
“These retired generals and admirals have made it clear exactly how destructive President Trump’s proposed transgender military ban would be to our nation’s armed forces,” commented Stephen Peters, Human Rights Campaign National Press Secretary and Marine veteran.
He called on President Trump to “listen to these voices of reason and reverse course in support of ALL of our nation’s heroes, regardless of their gender identity”.
In the meantime, the Pentagon has yet to be formally ordered to implement the transgender ban. Last week, Pentagon spokesperson Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters that Trump’s tweets were not enough to “result in any immediate policy changes for us”.
A new poll has found that a majority (58%) of Americans believe that transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military.