California National Guard tells transgender troops: 'Your gender identity is the least of our concerns'

Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, one of the California National Guard’s highest ranking officers, said that the gender identity of his soldiers “is the least of our concerns,” shortly after the Trump administration's policy barring most transgender people from serving in the military took effect on Friday.

Beevers, who serves as assistant adjutant general for the California National Guard, told The Hill that the state guard's leadership believes that the policy has enough opportunities for exceptions and waivers and that it still has “the opportunity to continue to bring transgender service members in as long as they meet the requirements for service.”

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“Anybody who is willing and able to serve state [and] nation should have the opportunity to serve. It’s unconscionable in my mind that we would fundamentally discriminate against a certain class of people based on their gender identity,” Beevers said. “That should be the absolute least of our worries.”

Under the new policy, transgender service members who currently serve or anyone who has already signed an enlistment contract can continue to serve openly and receive medical care. 

But those who are transgender and wish to join the military going forward will be required to serve in the gender they were assigned at birth under the policy.

Beevers said the state guard intends to work diligently with the Department of the Air Force and the Department of the Army to “bring transgender individuals in under the current policy" and added that they "will explore every avenue to ensure that transgendered people who want to serve in the California National Guard are afforded every opportunity to serve.”

“Every transgendered soldier or airmen currently serving in the California National Guard will remain in our ranks,” Beevers said. “Further, we will not treat any soldier or airmen any differently today, than we did yesterday.”

The policy, which has been met with a whirlwind of opposition from advocacy groups, also bars anyone diagnosed with gender dysphoria from enlisting unless a doctor certifies the person has been stable in their biological sex for 36 months. 

When pressed about how the state guard will go about allowing people diagnosed with gender dysphoria to join, Beevers said “we intend to exercise every available avenue inside the policy and out, to ensure transgendered people who want to serve the California National Guard are afforded the opportunity to serve.”

“We should be making sure that the Department of Defense and other types of services to both state and nation should be willing to take whomever is willing to serve. So it’s a bit frightening where we’re at today,” he continued. “However, we’re compelled as military officers to follow the rules of the folks that are elected and appointed above us and we’ll continue to do that.” 

Transgender people have only been openly serving in the military since the Obama administration lifted the previous ban on their service in 2016.

But Trump said in 2017 that he would “not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.”

Since then, the proposed ban has been met with four lawsuits and courts have issued injunctions in each of the cases that prevented the policy from being implemented. 

Beevers said he’s hopeful that “as a nation, we can get to a place where we don’t require policies like this.”

“As long as you’re willing to fight you can serve in our minds. Your gender identity is the least of our concerns,” Beevers said. “We’re more worried about your ability to fight and win our nation’s wars and protect the homeland and protect California from the effects of wildfires and climate change and earthquakes and everything else here that happens in California. That’s our concern.”