A group of 44 US senators, led by New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand (D), have signed a letter urging Secretary James N. Mattis to advise the President against the ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. The announcement, they say, undermines military readiness, contradicts policies already in place in the Defense Department, and creates an “impossible situation” for transgender soldiers.
“We appreciate General Dunford’s message that no policy changes should be made until implementation guidelines have been issued,” the Senators write in the letter. “We further write to request that, at a minimum, you do not separate any service member due to the person’s gender identity until you have completed the assessment that you announced on June 30, have reported back to Congress about any challenges that you foresee in the accession and retention of transgender troops, and determined the Department is unable to mitigate these challenges.”
They continue, “Transgender Americans who serve in our military put their lives on the line to protect America. They make up a small percentage of the military population, but are reportedly twice as likely to serve in the military as other Americans. Transgender service members have been serving openly since the policy was changed in June 2016 and in that time no service has reported any issues associated with their service. Any American who wants to serve and meets the standards should be allowed to serve our country. Transgender service members are serving with honor and distinction today and we ask that you, as our Secretary of Defense, assure them that their service will not be ended simply because of who they are.”
Senator Gillbrand is joined in authoring the letter alongside the following Senators:
Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D- CT), Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Susan M. Collins (R-ME), Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D- CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Margaret Wood Hassan (D-NH), Martin T. Heinrich (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward J. Markey (D- MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-OR), Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Gary C. Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernard Sanders (I- VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D- NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).