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Trump outlines trans ban details

by Alex Madison

 President Donald Trump. Photo: AP
President Donald Trump. Photo: AP  

President Donald Trump signed a memorandum Friday that serves as an implementation plan for his policy to ban transgender people from serving openly in the military. LGBTQ advocates are once again outraged as the long-awaited policy comes as a follow up to Trump's initial blanket transgender military ban, which he announced via Twitter last July.

The implementation plan states, "transgender persons who require or have undergone gender transition" cannot serve, except under certain conditions. The revised ban also includes any person diagnosed with gender dysphoria - those who may require substantial medical treatment, including medical drugs or surgery, which most transgender people participate in during their transition.

One of the documents released, a report titled, "Department of Defense Report on Recommendations on Military Service by Transgender Persons," states that "nothing in this policy precludes service by transgender persons who do not have a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria and are willing to meet all standards that apply to their biological sex."

Most LGBTQ advocates call the report a categorical ban on trans people serving in the military.

Lawsuits from LGBTQ groups on behalf of individuals and organizations, including Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and Equality California, continue against the Trump administration's efforts.

The ban was previously blocked by four federal courts, which granted preliminary injunctions barring it from being enforced. This currently allows transgender people to enlist and continue serving in the military. It is estimated between 4,000 and 10,000 U.S. active-duty and reserve service members are believed to be transgender.

On Tuesday, Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN, together with the state of Washington, appeared before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle urging the court to permanently block the ban. This was the first oral argument among the four lawsuits to ask a federal judge to make a final ruling to put an end to the ban.

In the lawsuit, Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN represent nine individual plaintiffs and three organizational plaintiffs: the Human Rights Campaign, Seattle-based Gender Justice League, and the American Military Partner Association, which joined the lawsuit on behalf of their transgender members harmed by the ban.

Equality California represents Nick Talbott, 24, along with six other transgender individuals in the Stockton v. Trump case. Talbott, who identifies as a trans man, is currently in the enlistment process to join the United States Air Force.

"Being in the military has always been my dream," Talbott said Tuesday in an interview with the Bay Area Reporter. "There is no reason whatsoever for anyone who is trans to be excluded from the military. Nothing about being trans impacts someone's ability to serve in the military. This is true for me and other transgender people."

Talbott said he is confident that the court will make the right decision and he will be able to enlist and serve in the military as an openly trans man.

Regarding the new documents, the White House said Friday that retaining troops with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria - those who may require substantial medical treatment - presented considerable risk to military effectiveness and unit cohesion.

That argument was in contrast to a 2016 study commissioned by the Defense Department that found no reason to prevent the enlistment and service of out trans individuals.

Local politicians and supporters of the LGBTQ community took to social media over the weekend to voice their strong disagreement to the ban.

On Saturday, gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) tweeted: "Trump: Transgender persons who require or have undergone gender transition are disqualified from military service. Us: People with bone spurs shouldn't throw stones about military service by brave people who just want to serve their country."

Gregory T. Angelo, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative LGBT political group, released a statement saying, "Preventing future accessions of transgender personnel suggests that this new policy has been reverse-engineered to achieve an outcome likely to succeed in little more than stoking culture wars."

The implementation policy comes after months of Pentagon review and with recommendation from Defense Secretary James Mattis, who was quoted in a summary of his recommendation to the president saying, "In my professional judgment, these policies will place the Department of Defense in the strongest position to protect the American people, to fight and win America's wars, and to ensure the survival and success of our service members around the world."

As previously reported by the B.A.R., Trump's initial efforts to ban transgender service members in July came from inaccurate information about the cost of trans health care, claiming the military "cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender [sic] in the military would entail."

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