No uni­form method

Mil­i­tary scram­bles for trans­gen­der pol­icy af­ter Trump tweets

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s tweets declar­ing trans­gen­der peo­ple un­wel­come in the armed forces have plunged the Pen­tagon into a le­gal and moral quag­mire, spark­ing a flurry of meet­ings to de­vise a new pol­icy that could lead to hun­dreds of ser­vice mem­bers be­ing dis­charged.

Months af­ter of­fi­cially al­low­ing trans­gen­der troops to serve openly in the mil­i­tary, the depart­ment may be forced to throw out those who will­ingly came for­ward af­ter be­ing promised they’d be pro­tected.

A team of mil­i­tary lawyers has been pulled to­gether to deal with the mat­ter, Adm. Paul Zukunft, the Coast Guard com­man­dant, re­vealed at the Cen­ter For Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies this week. Th­ese lawyers are work­ing with the White House to flesh out some of the is­sues, and they’re bol­stered by a Pen­tagon work­ing group that had ini­tially been set up to ad­vance the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s year-old re­peal of a trans­gen­der ban.

Now, they must deal with what­ever new post­tweet pol­icy emerges, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cials, who weren’t autho­rized to speak pub­licly on the mat­ter and re­quested anonymity.

Pen­tagon chief spokes­woman Dana White con­firmed that talks be­tween the White House and the Pen­tagon to work out the de­tails of a new trans­gen­der pol­icy have be­gun. Although it’s un­clear what the re­sult will be, the dis­cus­sions il­lus­trate that Trump’s aides aren’t writ­ing off his three-tweet salvo last week as an iso­lated out­burst but as guid­ance for an up­heaval in one of the mil­i­tary’s most sen­si­tive equal rights ques­tions.

What­ever the fi­nal pol­icy, court chal­lenges are likely. And the per­son­nel, health care and fair­ness is­sues sure to en­sue may com­pel some sol­diers, sailors and oth­ers to hide their iden­ti­ties and live a lie to re­main in the mil­i­tary.

It’s a sce­nario that raises the spec­tre of the now-de­funct “don’t ask, don’t tell” pol­icy that once gov­erned gays in the mil­i­tary.

While the 1993 com­pro­mise banned gay men and women from serv­ing, it es­sen­tially safe­guarded their places in the ranks as long as they kept their ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity hid­den. More than 13,000 were dis­charged af­ter the pol­icy was en­acted. While many oth­ers re­mained, they were forced to keep their sex­u­al­ity in the closet.

AP PHOTO

Pro­tes­tors at­tend a rally in New York City, to protest Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s an­nounce­ment of a ban on trans­gen­der troops serv­ing any­where in the U.S. mil­i­tary on July 26.

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