By Veronica Leroux, TGT Staff Writer
In response to Donald Trump’s off-the-cuff “ban” of transgender people from the U.S. Military during American Heroes Week, Democratic National Committee Chairperson Tom Perez tweeted “To the members of the transgender community: You are not a “burden.” Do not let this president shake you. We support you, we stand with you.” To the estimated 4,000 Americans already serving in the armed forces, he followed up by tweeting “And to those of you who’ve put your lives on the line for our country, we are indebted to you.”
The same Trump that vowed to protect the LGBTQ community made an about-face when he tweeted that “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”
As of this publication, the Department of Defense’s website states “transgender Service members may serve openly, and they can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military solely for being transgender individuals.” However, as for new enlistments, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has ordered a six month review to determine if new transgender military personnel may affect the the “readiness or lethality” of the military.
The DNC responded quickly with words of hope. National Finance Chair Henry Muñoz, DNC LGBT Caucus Chair Earl Fowlkes, and DNC Treasurer Bill Derrough, who was prevented from serving as an officer because he was openly gay, released this statement:
“Right this moment, around the world, brave transgender service members are protecting the American people – including Donald Trump and Mike Pence. While the White House claims to be celebrating ‘American Heroes’ week, the president and vice president are shoving real American patriots back in the closet and putting our nation’s security at risk.
“Donald Trump said he would protect LGBTQ people, but today’s decision to ban transgender Americans from serving in the military proves his promise was another bald-faced lie. Democrats stand with the transgender community and we will fight this administration’s bigotry tooth-and-nail. Those who defend our right to live freely should be able to serve freely. This cowardly statement by Donald Trump shames our nation and its history of advancing diversity in our military – from the integration of African-Americans into the military by President Truman to President Obama’s ending of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell – and it is an insult to the millions of Americans who have courageously served our nation.”