‘You Deserve Better’: Dems Offer Support to Trans Military Members as Ban Goes Into Effect

Kamala Harris, Joe Kennedy, Kisten Gillibrand
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Mark Wilson/Getty Images, Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

On Friday the Trump administration’s policy of excluding openly transgender individuals from serving in the military officially begins, affecting thousands of current troops and the countless more who had wished to serve in the future.

The policy was heavily disputed by Democratic lawmakers the moment it was surprisingly announced by President Donald Trump via Twitter last year.

Democrats were unsuccessful in getting the policy overturned in time, but are promising to continue to fight for the transgender military members.

“As Trump’s cruel, discriminatory transgender ban goes into effect today, I want to make this clear: We cannot end the fight,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) tweeted Friday.

“I’ll keep pushing to pass my bipartisan legislation to protect current and future transgender troops. I hope you’ll keep speaking out.”

“You deserve better,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said in a message to trans troops. “We stand with you in opposing Trump’s reprehensible, vile, and discriminatory ban.”

“The #TransMilitaryBan is a step in the President’s attempt to discriminate against our LGBTQ+ community,” Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) tweeted, adding she would use her status as a member of the House Armed Services Committee to continue to work against the ban.

The Democrats House Armed Service Committee pointed out Friday that they took a step against the ban two weeks ago with the passage of H.R. 124. The resolution opposing the ban 238-135 with every Democrat and five Republicans in support of the resolution.

The main sponsor of the resolution, Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) has been one of the most outspoken lawmakers on the ban. Friday was no exception.

“Make no mistake, @realDonaldTrump’s #TransMilitaryBan will be defeated,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Our past, present and future is built on a promise that everyone counts. To all the trans servicemembers & their families, please know this country sees you & we are grateful for your sacrifice.”

Trump’s original tweet on the matter called for an outright ban on all transgender military members, full stop. Since then, the Department of Defense has eased up the language saying that trans military members are welcome as long as they don’t act on their gender identity.

For critics, this is the same as a ban and mirrors the old “don’t ask don’t tell” policy of gay Americans serving in the military.

“The policy is insidious in operation but designed to be as comprehensive a ban as possible,” a report from non-partisan policy research thinktank Palm Center released in March stated.

“In that sense it is a perfect parallel to the failed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, also sold as not being a ban although designed to systemically push gay people out of military service—or at least keep them silent and invisible.”

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