(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Representative Jamie Raskin (MD-08) joined Reps. Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Joseph P. Kennedy, III (MA-04), and Jackie Speier (CA-14) in sending a congressional letter signed by 160 of their colleagues to Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan demanding that he not implement the ban on transgender patriots serving in the military.
Servicemembers who are openly transgender are currently able to serve, but President Trump has proposed banning all transgender people seeking to serve openly in the future from military service. The question of the ban’s constitutionality is currently pending in four cases. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court — at the Administration’s request—gave the Department of Defense discretionary authority to implement the ban, even as the litigation on constitutionality proceeds.
“Transgender people serving in the military deserve our heartfelt gratitude,” said Scanlon, “Not to have their contributions to our national security degraded by the President. There is absolutely no reasonable reason, other than animus or ignorance, to exclude patriots who are otherwise qualified from serving just because they happen to be transgender.”
In July 26, 2017, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter he was banning transgender people from serving in the armed forces. Transgender people have served openly in uniform since June 30, 2016, without any proven harm to readiness or unit cohesion. Congressman Kennedy and Congresswomen Scanlon and Speier are all members of the Transgender Equality Task Force of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. Kennedy serves as that task force’s chairman.
“Without caveat or condition, American servicemembers put their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe,” said Congressman Kennedy, Chair of the Transgender Equality Task Force. “They all deserve the same loyalty in return. Instead, President Trump’s ban on transgender troops makes a mockery of that sacrifice and a political ploy of something that should supersede party lines — our collective commitment to keep this country safe and free. By choosing not to implement the President’s misguided ban, the Department of Defense and Acting Secretary Shanahan can reject any attempt to inject hatred into our armed forces.”
It is estimated that as many as 14,700 transgender servicemembers are serving in the military.
“This ban isn’t only blatantly discriminatory, it’s self-defeating,” said Congresswoman Speier, Chairwoman of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee. “The Army just missed its recruiting goal by 6,500. The other service branches struggled to make their numbers. When finding Americans who want to serve becomes harder each year, it’s counterproductive to turn away the brave and courageous individuals who have proven they are willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It’s also un-American.”