President Trump’s order banning most transgender troops from serving in the military except under “limited circumstances” refocuses the military’s mission to emphasize “readiness and unit cohesion,” contends the head of a nonpartisan legal and policy organization.
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, noted that a Defense Department report commissioned by President Trump concludes there are substantial risks to military effectiveness and readiness regarding people who have gender dysphoria.
“The military is not a social club but rather a fine-tuned fighting machine of men and women who defend our freedom,” said Staver. “It is not a right but a privilege to serve.”
On Friday, Trump rescinded his order last year for a comprehensive ban on transgender troops, issuing a policy that will follow the recommendations of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and allow some to serve.
Transgender people who have not transitioned to a different gender or been diagnosed with gender dysphoria will be allowed to join and serve.
Obama’s policy in June 2016 reversed long-standing military rules against transgender people in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Staver said the “duty of military officers is to appropriately lead and prepare their personnel to serve and protect, and they cannot do that when there is confusion, dysfunction and distraction.”
Trump sent a tweet last August declaring he would reverse the Obama administration plan. However, four federal courts have ruled against the ban, and the Pentagon responded by allowing transgenders serving to stay in the military and began allowing transgenders to enlist beginning Jan. 1.
Trump’s memorandum, issued Friday, said individuals with a history of gender dysphoria, defined as “those who may require substantial medical treatment, including through medical drugs or surgery,” are disqualified from military service “except under certain limited circumstances.”
Those who are currently in the military may remain in the ranks, but the Pentagon could require them to serve according to their gender at birth.
The order stated that the defense secretary and the homeland security secretary should “exercise their authority to implement any appropriate policies concerning military service by transgender individuals.”
Pelosi: ‘hateful ban’
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reacted to the president’s order Friday, calling it a “hateful ban.”
“This latest memorandum is the same cowardly, disgusting ban the President announced last summer. No one with the strength and bravery to serve in the U.S. military should be turned away because of who they are,” she said in a statement
Pelosi said the “hateful ban is purpose-built to humiliate our brave transgender members of the military who serve with honor and dignity.”
“It will harm our nation’s readiness and hollow out our strength, for we only strengthen our military by honoring our values of freedom and equality,” she said.
However, in a memo to the president, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis concluded there are “substantial risks” related to military personnel who seek to change or who question their gender identity. Individuals with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria “could undermine readiness, disrupt unit cohesion, and impose an unreasonable burden on the military that is not conducive to military effectiveness and lethality.”
Staver said the new policy will enable the military to apply well-established mental and physical health standards — including those regarding the use of medical drugs — equally to all individuals.