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2017-JUL/AUG: Impact on Trump's Ban
of Transgender Military Service members






Text of a sign held by pro-equality demonstrator reacting to the military transgender ban

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Part 6

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Impact of Trump's ban on transgender military service members:

Dana White, chief spokesperson for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, said:

"The Department of Defense is awaiting formal guidance from the White House as a follow-up to the Commander-in-Chief's announcement on military service by transgender personnel. We will provide detailed guidance to the Department in the near future for how this policy change will be implemented. ... The Department will continue to focus on our mission of defending our nation and on-going operations against our foes, while ensuring all service members are treated with respect," she added." 1

Matt Thorn, the executive director of OutServe-SLDN -- an advocacy group for sexual minorities in the military -- said:

"There are so many questions. It’s unprecedented. DoD has never reversed itself on a major policy like this. ... I just don’t see ... [Defense Secretary Mattis] being vicious on this. If he’s forced by the president do to this, I think he’ll be as methodical as possible and will tread very carefully."

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Over the previous seven decades, the military has ended discrimination against multiple groups, first integrating blacks and whites, then women, and now transgender persons. In each case, they led much of the rest of the country. But now, just as trans individuals are receiving a lot of attention and support, President Trump has ordered the military to reverse themselves, and reinstate discrimination.

Professor Tobias Wolff, at the University of Pennsylvania Law School said:

"The chairman of the joint chiefs is respecting the rule of law and the role of the secretary of Defense, and he is protecting commanders in the field from having good order and discipline undermined. General Dunford should never have been put in this position. It is a reflection of the crisis we now face with this increasingly unstable and reckless individual occupying the presidency." 1

Dr. Christine McGinn is herself trans and was a former Navy surgeon. She has decided to perform free gender-conforming surgery for the trans service members in her backlog list of gender conformation operations . She said:

"If the commander-in-chief won't take care of our veterans, our veterans will." 2

Until matters are resolved, there are going to be thousands of distracted transgender service members who are preoccupied with being discharged. That is a scary state for military service members to be in, and will certainly detract from their mission assignments.

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National polling data:

  • 2017-JUL-26 to 28: A three-day poll of U.S. among 1,249 randomly selected U.S. adults was conducted by Reuters/Ipsos. The poll started on the day of President Trump's tweets on transgender service members. They found that:
    • 58% agreed with the statement "Transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military."
    • 27% disagreed.
    • 15% had no opinion or refused to respond.
    • As expected, a majority of Republicans opposed transgender persons in the military while Democrats strongly supported them. 
  • 2017-AUG-03: Quinnipiac University announced results of its poll of 1,125 voters. Presumably, by the time this poll was conducted, U.S. adults had much more exposure to the topic compared to the earlier Reuters/Ipsos poll and had a more settled opinion. They found that:
    • 68% agreed with the statement "Transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military."
    • 27% disagreed.
    • 5% had no opinion or refused to respond -- an unusually small percentage.
    • Again, Republicans opposed transgender persons in the military while Democrats very strongly supported them. 
    • The poll's margin of error is ±3 percentage points.

Comparing the results of the two polls, it seems that on the order 10% of the public quickly altered their opinion about transgender members of the military from "don't know" to "positive" as a result of President Trump's ban.

They also felt by a margin of 89% to 8% that it should be illegal for employers to discriminate against trans employees.

Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll said that transgender members of the military:

    "... put on uniforms and face the same risks as their brothers and sisters in arms for little reward other than protecting their country. Voters say a soldier is a soldier, no matter what his/her gender identity is. "Voters say, 'Let them serve'." 4

  • 2017-AUG-09 to 10: Public Policy Polling (PPP) conducted a survey of 948 voters on behalf of the veteran group VoteVets. They asked whether "we should remove all transgender troops from the military:" They found that
    • 68% agreed more with the statement "... that if someone can do the job, they should be able to serve."
      • Among women, this was 72%; among men, it was 66%.
    • 22% agreed more with the statement "... that we should remove all transgender troops from the military."
      • Among women, this was 16%; among men, it was 29%.
    • 8% had no opinion or refused to respond -- an unusually small percentage.
    • The poll's margin of error is ±3 percentage points. 5

Webmaster's comment [bias alert]:

These data are amazing. In comparison, homosexuality became a high profile news item in the early 1950's when the results of the first comprehensive scientific study of gays and lesbians were released. It took almost seven decades before support for same-sex marriage reached 60% in the U.S. News items about transgender individuals only reached a high profile in mid 2015. Now, only two years later, support for transgender persons in the military has exceeded 60% and is approaching 70%.

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2017-AUG: Status of multiple lawsuits against the transgender ban:

"Trump’s Transgender Military Ban Memo Shows His 'Embrace of Hate,' He said:

"A lawsuit filed by GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, calls the ban unconstitutional. The suit represents five plaintiffs from the Air Force, Coast Guard and Army. ..."

"The American Civil Liberties Union has said it plans to launch a lawsuit against the ban. ..."

"The ban, they said in a past statement, 'is an outrageous and desperate action. The thousands of transgender service members serving on the front lines for this country deserve better than a commander-in-chief who rejects their basic humanity'." 6

President Trump is expected to issue a memo to the Pentagon, perhaps by the end of August, on how to implement his ban on transgender service members. 7 A photo in the article shows a woman holding a sign saying:

'Trans military members fighting for our freedoms cost 1/1000 of a percent of annual DOD spending. So what is this [ban] really about??" 7

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2017-AUG-25: President Trump signed a memo that implements his new policy to discriminate against transgender service members. General Mattis responds:

The President's memo states that:

  • No new transgender individuals will be allowed to join the Military unless and until the Secretary of Defense recommends otherwise.

  • No new transgender individuals will be allowed to join the Coast Guard unless and until the Secretary of Homeland Security recommends otherwise.

  • For transgender service members who are currently serving, the departments of Defense and Homeland Security will determine what to do with them based on how their continued service affects military effectiveness, lethality, resources and unit cohesion.

  • Effective 2018-MAR-23, sex confirmation surgery (formerly called sex change surgery) will be stopped, except for those service members currently being treated. 7

  • Implementation plans are to be submitted to the President by 2018-MAR-25.

Webmaster's comment:

We believe that this is the first time in the history of the U.S. Armed Forces that discrimination against a group of potential service members was phased out and later restored. In the past, after the military terminated discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and sexual orientation, the changes were permanent.

Sarah McBride, National Press Secretary of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said:

"It is an unconscionable and unconstitutional breach of trust for the president to single out brave transgender service members and able recruits for discrimination." 13

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On AUG-28, two lawsuits were quickly filed to challenge the ban:

  • The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland filed a lawsuit "Stone v. Trump" in federal court on behalf of six transgender service members. It is based on the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution which guarantees citizens due process and equal protection. This Amendment has been the basis of many past, successful, and major legal human rights challenges that have affecting minorities, including the legalizing of interracial marriages, the decriminalizing of consensual same-gender sexual behavior in private, and the legalizing of marriage by same-sex couples. 8

    The ACLU claims that President Trump's transgender:

    "... ban is based on uninformed speculation, myths and stereotypes, moral disapproval, and a bare desire to harm this already vulnerable group."

Josh Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, said:

"Each and every claim made by President Trump to justify this ban can be easily debunked by the conclusions drawn from the Department of Defense’s own review process. Allowing men and women who are transgender to serve openly and providing them with necessary health care does nothing to harm military readiness or unit cohesion. Men and women who are transgender with the courage and capacity to serve deserve more from their commander-in-chief. 9

  • Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington state on behalf of three persons and two other groups:

    "... two individuals who seek to join the military; one current service member who seeks appointment as an officer; the Human Rights Campaign; ... and [the] Gender Justice League."

    Peter Renn, Lambda Legal Senior Attorney said:

    "This ban not only wrongfully prevents patriotic, talented Americans from serving, it also compromises the safety and security of our country. Thousands of current service members are transgender, and many have been serving openly, courageously and successfully in the U.S. military for more than a year -- not to mention the previous decades when many were forced to serve in silence. Once again attacking a vulnerable population based on bias, political opportunism and demonstrably untrue ‘alternative facts,’ President Trump is denying brave men and women the opportunity to serve our country without any legitimate justification whatsoever."

    Plaintiff Staff Sergeant Catherine Schmid said:

    "I love serving my country, which I’ve been doing for more than 12 years. Since the ban on open service by transgender men and women was lifted, I’ve been able to live and serve as my authentic self, which has allowed me to form stronger bonds with my fellow service members."

    Peter Perkowski, Legal Director for OutServe-SLDN, said:

    "We promised that we would sue if the president took this action. The law is on our side; justice is on our side. And we are on the side of every single transgender service member and those who want to serve. The nation’s courts exist to protect the people whom tyrants would otherwise abuse. Trump can’t tweet his way out of this one." 10

On AUG-29, General Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, announced that he was setting up a panel of experts to study the ban and recommend how to implement it. He will then advise the President. He said:

"Once the panel reports its recommendations and following my consultation with the secretary of Homeland Security, I will provide my advice to the president concerning implementation of his policy direction. In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place." 14

His response appears ambiguous with regard to the scheduling of future gender confirmation surgery for transgender members of the Armed Forces and Coast Guard. Carlos Garcia, writing for The Blaze stated that:

"Secretary of Defense James Mattis issued a statement of implementation of President Trump's transgender ban that many believed actually undermined his order." 11

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Previous articles in this series on transgender persons in the U.S. military:

The above article is Part 5 in a series of articles on transgender persons in the U.S. military. Previous essays are:

  • Part 1: 2011/2012: Overview. Support. Current military policies. Care for veterans.

  • Part 2: 2016: Previous ends to discrimination by the military. Pentagon announces an end to discrimination against transgender members. Negative reactions.

  • Part 3: 2016: More negative reactions to the ending of discrimination. Positive reactions.

  • Part 4: 2016: President Trump's ban on transgender persons in the military 

  • Part 5: 2017: Trump bans transgender military service members via tweets.

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A helpful list:

  • The Toronto Star has a list of false claims made by President Trump. At the end of his first six months in office, the list totals 447 false claims. They average 2.4 per day. At this rate he will accumulate over 3,500 false claims by the end of his first term in office. Daniel Dale, writing for the Star, commented:

    "... Trump has proven uniquely willing to lie, exaggerate and mislead. By all expert accounts, he is more frequently inaccurate than any of his predecessors." 12

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Bryan Bender & Jacqueline Klimas, "Pentagon takes no steps to enforce Trump's transgender ban," Politico, 2017-JUL-27, at:
  2. Alexandra King, "Ex-Navy doc vows free surgery for transgender military patients," CNN, 2017-JUL-29, at:
  3. Chris Kahn, "Exclusive: Majority of Americans support transgender military service - poll," Reuters, 2017-JUL-28, at:
  4. "Release Detail," Quinnipiac University Poll, 2017-AUG-03, at:
  5. Results of the PPP poll on Transgender persons serving in the military can be downloaded from their web site as a PDF file.
  6. Graham Lanktree, "Trump’s Transgender Military Ban Memo Shows His 'Embrace of Hate,' says Veterans Group," Newsweek, 2017-AUG-24, at:
  7. Gordon Lubold, "White House Sets Rules for Military Transgender Ban," The Wall Street Journal, 2017-AUG-23, at:
  8. "ACLU sues Trump over transgender military ban," Associated Press, 2017-AUG-28, at:
  9. "ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging Trump’s Transgender Service Member Ban," ACLU, 2017-AUG-28, at:
  10. "HRC Represented By Lambda Legal & OutServe-SLDN in Lawsuit Against Trump’s Trans Military Ban," Human Rights Campaign, 2017-AUG-28, at:
  11. Carlos Garcia, "Defense Secretary Mattis halts Trump’s transgender ban until this happens." The Blaze, 2017-AUG-29, at:
  12. Daniel Dale, "Donald Trump just had his most dishonest week as president: 7 days, 34 false claims," Toronto Star, 2017-JUL-27, at:
  13. Merrit Kennedy, "2 Lawsuits Challenge Trump's Ban On Transgender Military Service," NPR, 2017-AUG-28, at:
  14. Tom Vanden Brook, "Mattis freezes transgender policy; allows troops to continue serving, pending study," USA Today, 2017-AUG-29, at:

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Copyright © 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update : 2017-SEP-07
Author: B.A. Robinson
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