Ex-military officials sign on to oppose Trump’s transgender troops ban

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Nearly three dozen retired military officers and national security officials are speaking out against President Trump’s ban on transgender people joining the military, pressing a federal appeals court to uphold an order blocking it.

“The President’s actions here continue to reflect a sharp departure from decades of military practice across multiple administrations regarding considered policy-making on major questions of military readiness,” the former officials wrote in a brief filed Tuesday.

“Excluding transgender individuals from patriotic service that they are trained and qualified to give based on group characteristics, rather than individual fitness to serve, undermines rather than promotes the national security interests of the United States,” they wrote.

Trump abruptly announced on Twitter in June 2017 that he would ban transgender individuals from serving “in any capacity” in the U.S. military.

“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,” the president wrote.

Trump’s move would in effect reverse the Obama administration’s decision to begin allowing transgender troops to serve openly in the U.S. armed forces, a decision that was still under final review at the time Trump announced the ban.

The effort has since been the subject of numerous court battles. In March, the White House issued a memorandum laying out its revised plans to move forward with the policy, which would disqualify transgender troops from serving in the military “except under limited circumstances.” A federal court has since blocked the ban from taking hold.

The 33 retired officers and national security officials penned one of nine friend-of-the-court briefs filed Tuesday urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to uphold the court order stalling the ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. Other groups, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, filed similar briefs opposing the ban.

“The Government is using the same rationalizations once weaponized against African Americans seeking to serve their country to justify banning transgender Americans from service,” the brief filed by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund states.

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