Transgender troops rally as Pentagon prepares to implement ban

Transgender troops, supportive lawmakers and other advocates rallied outside the Capitol on Wednesday, two days before the Pentagon is set to enforce a ban on most transgender military service.

“Our best weapon is to lace up our boots and go to work every day and do the mission and to get it done,” Air Force Lt. Col. Bryan Bree Fram. “We’re doing that every day around the world, at home and abroad."

“What we ask is that you do not let the security of our country be put at risk by the loss of these valuable, well-trained service members that contribute to the readiness and lethality of our force,” Fram added.

The lawmakers who came to Wednesday’s rally were Democratic Reps. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedyOvernight Defense: Transgender troops rally as ban nears | Trump may call more troops to border | National Guard expects 3M training shortfall from border deployment | Pentagon to find housing for 5,000 migrant children Transgender troops rally as Pentagon prepares to implement ban The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition — Trump rallies for second term on 'promises kept' MORE III (Mass.), Gil CisnerosGilbert (Gil) Ray CisnerosMORE (Calif.) and Anthony BrownAnthony Gregory BrownWe must act today to address the hidden cost of financial illiteracy Divided Dems look to regroup Overnight Defense: Transgender troops rally as ban nears | Trump may call more troops to border | National Guard expects 3M training shortfall from border deployment | Pentagon to find housing for 5,000 migrant children MORE (Md).

ADVERTISEMENT

“I cannot promise you we will win this fight by Friday night, but I can promise you that we will win it,” Kennedy, chairman of the LGBT Equality Caucus’s Transgender Equality Task Force, told the crowd, to applause.

Transgender troops have been serving openly since the Obama administration lifted a previous ban in 2016.

But the Pentagon is set to implement a policy Friday that would bar most transgender people from serving in the military.

The policy, taking effect almost two years after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump tweets ICE will begin removing 'millions' of undocumented migrants MORE first tweeted his intention to ban transgender troops, comes after courts paved the way by lifting four injunctions that were blocking it.

Courts did not rule on the underlying merits of the four lawsuits, though, and the litigants have vowed to press on. Shannon Minter, legal director at National Center for Lesbian Rights, told The Hill on Wednesday that the next steps are to enforce the requirement for the government to deliver documents requested as part of the discovery process.

Under the policy taking effect Friday, people diagnosed with gender dysphoria will not be able to serve unless a doctor certifies they have been stable in their biological sex for 36 months, have not transitioned to the gender they identify with and are willing to serve in their biological sex.

The policy will grandfather in currently serving transgender troops or anyone who has already signed an enlistment contract, allowing them to continue serving openly and receiving medical care.

“When we wake up on Friday to a new policy, active-duty transgender service members will be the face of open trans service,” Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann said. “As we are able, we must be visible to those who would discriminate against us as a reminder to them that we will not be forced to hide. Make it matter.”

The Pentagon denies the policy is a ban because of the carveouts for currently serving transgender service members and transgender people willing to serve in their biological sex.

But transgender service members and their advocates argue it effectively is a ban akin to the defunct “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that banned open service by gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

“Your bravery in the military is only eclipsed by your bravery taking this fight head on while still wearing the uniform and sits in stark contrast to the man in the White House and his bigoted ban,” Brown told the crowd in his speech. “I promise we will not allow transgender troops to fight alone.”