New Memo Reveals Military Could Reverse Transgender Ban in Under 30 Days

Wednesday July 22, 2020

New Memo Reveals Military Could Reverse Transgender Ban in Under 30 Days
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On the eve of the July 26 three-year anniversary of tweets announcing that transgender troops would be banned from the military, the Palm Center today released a policy memo explaining that the ban can be easily reversed in under thirty days. The memo was authored by retired Rear Admiral Alan Steinman, M.D., the former Surgeon General equivalent of the U.S. Coast Guard, and was endorsed by nine major military, LGBTQ, and progressive groups who all support ending the ban.

The new policy memo is significant because the military often takes considerable time to study and implement policy changes. In this case, the research shows that all the ingredients are there for a virtually instant reversal.

"A big ship can take time to turn around, so often the Pentagon needs to study policy changes and move cautiously," said Aaron Belkin, Director of the Palm Center. "But this is the rare case where, since the military left inclusive policy for already-serving transgender personnel in place even as it implemented its ban, the switch is just waiting to be flipped."

"The policy memo provides a regulatory roadmap of the precise steps needed to immediately restore transgender military service," said RADM Steinman. As the memo states: "There will be no need to redevelop guidance, restudy options, redraft regulatory language, or retrain anybody. Everything needed already exists in current military guidance and remains a part of current military practice."

The eight-page memo was endorsed by the Center for American Progress; GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders; Human Rights Campaign; Lambda Legal; Modern Military Association of America; National Center for Lesbian Rights; National Center for Transgender Equality; Service Members, Partners, Allies for Respect and Tolerance for All (SPART*A); and Transgender American Veterans Association.

[READ: What Will the Supreme Court's Decision on LGBTQ Employment Discrimination Mean for Transgender Americans?]

"The immediate restoration of transgender service in the U.S. military is important to our national security," said Kelly Magsamen, Vice President for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress. "This is a solid blueprint for making it happen."

"Ending the ban on transgender service members is the right path forward to ensure military readiness," said Jennifer Levi, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders Transgender Rights Project Director. "As this report shows, the military can simply and easily revert to the prior open service policy. Transgender troops have shown they can serve with dedication and honor. What they need—and what our country needs—is for the current roadblock to their service to be removed."

"The Trump administration's ban on transgender troops contradicts medical experts, military leadership, budget analysts and 70% of the American people," said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director for the Human Rights Campaign. "Patriots of every gender identity should have the ability to serve their country openly and authentically without fear. Once adopted, these recommendations will make our nation and our armed forces stronger and our country safer and fairer."

"For three years, Lambda Legal has been fighting this administration's harmful and discriminatory ban on transgender military service, but as this Palm Center analysis explains, we could stop the damage being done immediately with a few specific steps that would be quick and easy to implement," said Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Sasha Buchert. "Transgender people have served and continue to serve our country with courage and commitment. We owe it to them to right this wrong."

"Time and again, the justifications for the administration's transgender military ban have been disproven and shown to be based on nothing more than discrimination," said Jennifer Dane, Interim Executive Director of the Modern Military Association of America, the nation's largest LGBTQ military and veteran non-profit organization. "In order for the military to recruit and retain the best and brightest our nation has to offer, it's crucial that the Department of Defense return to an inclusive policy."

"The path to ending this harmful ban and restoring equality of opportunity for transgender troops is straightforward," said Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "As this report shows, doing so is not only the right policy, it's the only one that promotes military readiness and avoids the harms caused by excluding qualified individuals from military service."

"It's past time to end the ban on transgender troops serving openly," said Mara Keisling, Executive Director for the National Center for Transgender Equality. "The policy is discriminatory, and violates the core American values of freedom and opportunity for all. We must move quickly to right this wrong and protect trans members of the military."

"SPART*A welcomes a return to open service for those courageous individuals serving our nation," said Emma Shinn, President of SPART*A, representing actively serving transgender military members. "Palm's plan details how to return to recognizing the value of strength through diversity. We have proven that transgender service members accomplish the mission every day, across the globe, and in harm's way. Returning to open service, as this plan ensures, helps attract and retain those willing to serve."

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