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White House memorandum bans most transgender military members 

click to enlarge LGBTQ activists argue that transgender military members shouldn't be denied the right to fight for their country. - SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Shutterstock.com
  • LGBTQ activists argue that transgender military members shouldn't be denied the right to fight for their country.
On Friday, March 23, President Donald Trump issued a memorandum effectively banning the majority of transgender troops from the military.

Specifically, the memorandum says that “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria — individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery — are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances.” He doesn’t go into detail about these “limited circumstances.”

The memorandum adds to an ongoing public discussion, which began in earnest last July with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’ six-month stay on the induction of openly transgender recruits. Following that, a controversial tweet from the president himself stated that all transgender service members would be banned from the military. While hasty (and allegedly quite confusing for the Pentagon), that tweet lit a fire under the Pentagon's rear to review military readiness and transgender military members.

Of course, a study on the subject by the RAND Corporation had already been completed by the time this discussion began, and it found that the effect of transgender people on military readiness (and budget) was minimal, but the Pentagon review seems to have decided otherwise.

Naturally, LGBTQ activists consider the ban discriminatory, and argue that transgender troops have no more effect on “military readiness and lethality” than any other minority. Arguments about readiness and morale were raised when it came to racial integration of the military and allowing women to serve, after all, and it’s hard not to be reminded of the political controversy surrounding Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which banned openly gay, lesbian and bisexual military members.

Lawsuits have already begun piling up, rendering the memorandum more ornamental than functional. Currently, four federal courts have issued preliminary injunctions, meaning transgender military members may continue to serve until decisions are reached, and the Pentagon must continue to accept transgender recruits in compliance with the federal courts.

There’s a high likelihood that this will end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, but until then we know precisely where the White House stands on the issue. Unsurprisingly, the president doesn't stand beside LGBTQ people and service members, but rather on the opposite side of a widening cultural divide.

Locals interested in discussing the issue further are invited to join Col. Gary Packard, USAF, for a presentation on "Morality, Religion, Social Justice and Military Service - A Don't Ask, Don't Tell and Transgender Military Service Journey." The conversation will be held at First Congregational Church,  20 E. St. Vrain St., Tues., April 17, 7-8:30 p.m.

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