TRANSGENDERS OUT OF MILITARY? NOT SO FAST

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By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Congressman Scott Peters

July 27, 2017 (San Diego) – President Donald Trump’s tweets yesterday stating that he is reinstating a ban on transgender people in the U.S. military do not have the force of law.

Now, the Chairman of the Joint Chief’s of Staff says the military won’t take action until Trump sends directives to the Pentagon. In addition, San Diego Congressman Scott Peters has proposed an amendment to a major defense appropriations bill that would block discrimination against transgender people in the military--and even many staunch conservatives are voicing support for transgender troops.

The Hill reported today that General Joseph Dunford, the nation’s highest ranking military officer, says the military won’t be making any changes in its transgender policy based on Tweets. A written order to Defense Secretary James Mattis would be required first.  Meanwhile, Dunford made clear, “We will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect.”

A Times of San Diego article  reports that the Peters amendment reads as follows:  “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to implement, enforce, or observe in any way, any directive from the President of the United States that bars or restricts the ability of a person to serve in the Armed Forces because such person is transgender.”

As East County Magazine  reported yesterday,  Trump’s tweets  indicated he was reversing Barack Obama’s policy that allowed transgender people to serve openly.

Peters, a Democrat, cited a Pentagon-commissioned study  that found 1,320 to 6,630 transgender individuals are on active duty in the U.S. military and that enlistment of transgender Americans would have a negligible impact on readiness--and no significant effect on cohesion or effectiveness, contrary to the President’s claims.

“I can’t think of anything more backwards than turning away a brave, qualified American who wants to serve in our all-volunteer military because of their gender identity,” Peters said. “There are already thousands of transgender Americans serving honorably and openly in our Armed Forces. There is a former member of SEAL Team 6 — the most elite military unit in history — that came out as transgender.”

Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, stated, “The one thing this president needs to convey to our transgender service members and veterans is gratitude — gratitude that they stood up and raised their right hand and said, `Send me.’”

Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (R-Alpine) voiced support for Trump’s action.“The president’s decision was the absolute right decision,” Hunter said in a statement posted on his website. “National security should trump social experimentation, always. It’s about time that a decision is made to restore the warrior culture and allow the U.S. military to get back to business.”

But many other prominent Republicans have voiced opposition to Trump’s action and came out in support of transgender troops – including some of the staunchest conservatives in Congress.  Their views bolster those hoping Peters’ amendment will win bipartisan support to halt Trump’s action.

Senator Hatch, a Utah conservative, stated, "I don't think we should be discriminating against anyone."Transgender people are people and deserve the best we can do for them."

Senator John McCain, a former GOP presidential candidate, military hero and ex-prisoner of war, stated, "There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military - regardless of their gender identity."

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Reblican, also stands with the transgender military members. On Twitter, he wrote, “Any American who wants to serve should be able to do so, regardless of gender identity.”