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56 retired generals, admirals warn against Trump's transgender ban

56 retired generals, admirals warn against Trump's transgender ban
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Fifty-six retired generals and admirals are coming out against President Trump’s ban on transgender troops, arguing it would be disruptive and degrade military readiness, rather than improve it as the president asserted. 

“This proposed ban, if implemented, would cause significant disruptions, deprive the military of mission-critical talent, and compromise the integrity of transgender troops who would be forced to live a lie, as well as non-transgender peers who would be forced to choose between reporting their comrades or disobeying policy,” the retired officers said in a statement released Tuesday by the Palm Center, which researches issues of gender and sexuality in the military.

“As a result, the proposed ban would degrade readiness even more than the failed ‘don't ask, don't tell’ policy. Patriotic transgender Americans who are serving — and who want to serve — must not be dismissed, deprived of medically necessary health care, or forced to compromise their integrity or hide their identity.”

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Some of the signatories on the statement include retired Gen. John Allen, who served as deputy commander of U.S. Central Command and special presidential envoy for the anti-Islamic State in Iraq and Syria coalition; retired Gen. Robert Sennewald, who led U.S. and U.N. forces in South Korea in the 1980s; and retired Vice Adm. Donald Arthur, who served as surgeon general of the Navy.

Last week, Trump tweeted that the military would “not accept or allow” transgender people to serve “in any capacity” because of the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” their service would bring. Trump claimed he made the decision after consultation with “my generals and military experts.”

A day later, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said the military would not implement the ban until it receives an official directive from Trump. 

As of Monday, the Pentagon had yet to receive any official guidance, though a spokesman said the White House has begun reaching out to draft such an order. 

In their Tuesday statement, the retired officers highlight two recent statements from former Joint Chiefs chairmen in support of transgender troops. Retired Gen. Martin Dempsey said on Twitter their service is a “blessing, not a burden,” while retired Adm. Mike Mullen said in a statement that “there is no reason to single out” transgender troops.

The retired officers also said Trump’s claims of high costs have already been rebutted by the Rand Corporation, as well as a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine by the Palm Center’s director. Those studies found medical costs for transgender troops would be at most $8.4 million annually, or about 0.01 percent of the military’s annual medical budget.

“As for ostensible disruptions, transgender troops have been serving honorably and openly for the past year, and have been widely praised by commanders,” the retired officer added. “Eighteen foreign nations, including the UK and Israel, allow transgender troops to serve, and none has reported any detriment to readiness.”