Civil rights watchdog condemns Trump's transgender troops ban

Civil rights watchdog condemns Trump's transgender troops ban
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The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued a statement Friday condemning President Trump’s surprise decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military.

“The President’s mere announcement of a ban on transgender military service harms all Americans by sending a message that fosters and encourages prejudice, inconsistent with our core national values,” the commission said. “If implemented, the ban would further harm Americans, and weaken our defense, by enshrining unequal treatment of Americans based on rank stereotype.”

Trump made the announcement banning transgender people from military service in a series of tweets late last month. He said he made the decision after consulting with “my Generals and military experts.”

The White House has yet to provide any policy guidance on how the military should institute the ban, however, and officials have suggested there will be no changes until the guidance comes.

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Fears rise over Trump-Putin summit | McCain presses Trump to hold Putin 'accountable' for hacking | Pentagon does damage control after NATO meet Mattis doesn't mention Russia by name at meeting with Balkan officials: report Trump references ‘legitimate media and fake-news media’ at meeting with NATO leader MORE earlier this week said there would be no change without the guidance.

The ban has sparked intense criticism, including from top Republican senators and dozens of retired generals and admirals.

Catherine Lhamon, the chair of the commission, also slammed the ban in a statement, saying “animus has no place in any aspect of American life.”

“All Americans deserve our government’s respect and protection, not affirmative harm from the government itself,” she said. “The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights calls on the United States to satisfy the civil rights protections that are the responsibility and obligation of the federal government.”

The statement comes two months after the bipartisan federal watchdog announced it would be launching a two-year probe into civil rights offices throughout the Trump administration.

Trump had cast his decision as an effort to improve military readiness. It came as some conservative Republicans in the House pushed for language on a spending bill that would have blocked funding for gender transition surgeries. 

"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," Trump tweeted.

"Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”

Trump later defended the ban, saying he was “doing the military a great favor.”

“I have great respect for the community," Trump said from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., last week. "I think I’ve had great support, or I’ve had great support from that community. I got a lot of votes. It’s been a very complicated issue for the military, it’s been a very confusing issue for the military, and I think I’m doing the military a great favor.”