45 senators have urged the Pentagon to block or at least halt implementation of President Trump’s ban on transgender people in the US Military.
In June of last year, President Obama asked the Pentagon to lift its long-held ban on transgender soldiers serving openly in the military.
The Department of Defense was given until July 1 of this year to implement the policy, with LGBT advocates hopeful that transgender soldiers would finally be able to serve openly.
The decision was delayed by Trump’s Defence Secretary James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis – and the President confirmed yesterday that he would reverse the decision put the ban back in place.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand yesterday said she was working on legislation to reverse the announcement by President Trump.
“Our office is working on legislation to stop this from happening and on an amendment to the [National Defense Authorization Act], but these are all long-term fixes,” Moran Banai, a senior adviser in the senator’s office told Vox.
Now Senator Gillibrand has the signatures of 44 other senators urging the Pentagon to at least let the Department of Defense finish a review on the issue before bringing in the new policy.
The letter was addressed to Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
“We strongly oppose this policy change, and urge you to advise the President against it,” Gillibrand and the senators wrote.
“This announcement contradicts existing Defense Department policies, undermines our military readiness, and puts our transgender service members as well as their commanders in an impossible situation.”
The letter also asks that “at a minimum, you do not separate any service member due to the person’s gender identity until you have completed the assessment that you announced on June 30, have reported back to Congress about any challenges that you foresee in the accession and retention of transgender troops, and determined the Department is unable to mitigate these challenges.
“Transgender Americans who serve in our military put their lives on the line to protect America… They make up a small percentage of the military population, but are reportedly twice as likely to serve in the military as other Americans.”
Trump’s ban will not take effect immediately as the Pentagon has already said it is awaiting guidance from the White House.
Despite the assertion that it would cost the military too much to implement a transgender-inclusive policy, the Department of Defense spent five times more on Viagra in 2014 than it would on care for transgender troops.
Out trans former Navy SEAL Kristin Beck challenged President Trump to tell her to her face that she is “not worthy” after he announced the policy.
She also noted the negligible cost of providing the healthcare to trans troops compared to other military costs.
According to reports, the Pentagon was unaware that Trump was about to announce the rolling back of the Obama-era change.
It is not the first time Trump has gone out of his way to reverse a decision on LGBT rights made by Obama.
The GOP leader has already scrapped protections for transgender school kids, ceased government opposition to state-level anti-LGBT laws, and sought to slash HIV aid funding.
The decisions sour Trump’s previous claims during his election campaign to be a “friend” of LGBT people.
In a speech directly after the Orlando massacre he had claimed: “Ask yourself, who is really the friend of women and the L-G-B-T community, Donald Trump with his actions, or Hillary Clinton with her words.”
He also won endless praise from gay Republicans for waving a Pride flag on stage, while making no pledges on LGBT rights.