Activists dismayed at U.S. President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender military personnel
Trump’s declaration via Twitter called ‘heinous and disgusting’ attack on transgender service members
NEW YORK — Most LGBT-rights activists never believed Donald Trump’s campaign promises to be their friend. But with his move Wednesday to ban transgender people from military service, on top of other actions and appointments, they now see him as openly hostile.
Leaders of major advocacy groups depicted Trump’s Twitter pronouncement as an appeal to the portion of his conservative base that opposes the recent civil-rights gains by the LGBT community.
“His administration will stop at nothing to implement its anti-LGBTQ ideology within our government — even if it means denying some of our bravest Americans the right to serve and protect our nation,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of the LGBT-rights group GLAAD.
Transgender service members have been able to serve openly since last year, after a move by then-Defence Secretary Ash Carter. Trump’s vow to end that policy was the latest, and perhaps the most stinging, of a string of actions since his election that have dismayed supporters of LGBT rights.
The Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT-rights group, depicted Trump’s earlymorning tweets Wednesday as a “heinous and disgusting” attack on transgender service members.
“It is also the latest effort by Trump and Mike Pence to undo our progress and drag LGBTQ people back into the closet by using our lives as political pawns,” said the group’s president, Chad Griffin.
Trump’s pronouncement was hailed by some conservatives who have long complained that the military was undermining its effectiveness by allowing gays, lesbians and transgender people to serve openly. Opponents also have contended that the military should not bear the cost of any medical procedures related to gender transition.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, denounced Trump’s declaration as “simple bigotry.”
“This attack has nothing to do with military readiness, reason or science,” she said. “It is indefensible.”
Attorney Sasha Buchert, a transgender woman who works for the LGBT-rights group Lambda Legal, recalled feelings of fear and isolation while serving in the Marines in the 1980s.
“It’s not a question of whether transgender people will serve,” she said. “It’s a question of whether they’ll be serving openly or will be hiding like they did in the old days.”
LGBT rights supporters protest a ban on transgendered servicemembers in Washington, D.C.