Why is Trump playing hateful gender politics with our military?
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Recently, President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pens op-ed on kindergartners learning tech Bharara, Yates tamp down expectations Mueller will bring criminal charges Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open MORE announced on Twitter a policy change that would ban transgender people from serving in the military.

The announcement was made without the knowledge of the Pentagon, and was rolled out without a plan for its implementation. The policy change was another example of this administration’s discrimination against the transgender community, and reckless in that its effect will weaken our nation’s armed forces.

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Despite saying that he would be a ‘friend’ to the LGBT community, Trump has made transgender rights the latest casualty in his effort to roll back protections that actually make America great.

 

There are currently 1.3 million active-duty members who currently serve in the military.

According to a 2016 report released by RAND, the number of transgender service members has varied considerably and can at times be as high as 15,000.

In the armed forces, transgender persons serve in a variety of critical positions such as drill sergeants, helicopter pilots, combat medics, and others. Many serve in combat zones defending American values and democracy abroad.

Removing these people from their jobs would place the military's readiness at risk, hurt morale in a significant way, and unnecessarily discriminate against certain individuals.

Following the president’s Twitter announcement, senior military officials made an announcement of their own.

According to top brass, the Pentagon won’t be making any "modifications" to policies regarding transgender individuals serving in the military. In addition, the military officials also made clear that the military will "treat all of our personnel with respect.”

As civil rights leaders who advocate for policies that protect our LGBT brothers and sisters, we know that these individuals serve our country with honor and distinction.

Despite the proliferation of hateful legislation like bathroom bills and bans that target transgender individuals, thousands still feel compelled to put their lives on the line to defend our values through military service.

That’s true courage; and the President’s attempts to target any veteran or service member based on identity is nothing short of cowardice. We know that there is no basis for banning these individuals from serving our country other than to appeal to Trump’s hateful and bigoted political base.

We urge our elected officials to take the time to understand the facts and talk to transgender members of the armed forces before implementing policy changes that would hurt our military.

America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, and any attempt to ban transgender people from serving in the military goes against our American values and damages the very institution we rely upon to protect us.

If Trump is truly a friend of the LGBT community, he will stop using transgender individuals as political pawns, and instead, allow them to be full, participating members in all of our society’s institutions — including the military.

Brent Wilkes is the executive director of the League of Latin American Citizens, which advocates for the political, economic and educational rights of Hispanic Americas. Follow him on Twitter @BrentWilkes. Follow LULAC on Twitter @LULAC


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