Nancy Pelosi Slams Donald Trump Over 'Bigoted, Disgusting' Pentagon Rule That Will Bar Transgender Troops From Transitioning

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed President Donald Trump over a Pentagon policy change that would bar transgender troops and military recruits from transitioning to another sex and require most service members to serve in their birth gender.

"The president's revival of his bigoted, disgusting ban on transgender service members is a stunning attack on the patriots who keep us safe and on the most fundamental ideals of our nation," Pelosi said in a statement on Tuesday.

Condemning the new rule as "cowardly," Pelosi said the president's "years-long insistence" on making it difficult for transgender troops to serve "makes clear that prejudice, not patriotism, guides his decisions.

"If implemented, this hateful policy would undermine our military readiness and betray our core American values," Pelosi said.

A memo obtained by The Associated Press outlining the Pentagon's new policy asserted that military services would be required to implement the policy in 30 days, allowing anyone who signed an enlistment contract by April 12 to continue with any plans for hormone treatments and gender transition if they had received a diagnosis of "gender dysphoria."

After April 12, however, no applicants who were currently taking hormones or who had transitioned to another gender would be allowed to enlist.

The memo also said that any currently serving troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria after April 12 would have to serve in their birth gender and would not be allowed to take any hormones or undergo transition surgery.

Further, the policy change would allow for service members to be discharged based on a gender dysphoria diagnosis, or if they were "unable or unwilling to adhere to all applicable standards, including the standards associated with his or her biological sex, or seek transition to another gender," according to the AP. Before any discharges could be finalized, according to the new policy, service members would be required to receive formal counseling and be given the option of changing their decision.

Vowing to fight the new policy, Pelosi said: "No one with the strength and bravery to serve in the U.S. military should be turned away because of who they are.

"The House will continue to fight this discriminatory action, which has no place in our country," she said. "We will never allow hate and prejudice to dictate our national security."

In a statement sent to Newsweek, Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, an Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs in 2004 after suffering severe combat wounds, joined Pelosi in condemning the new rule. She called on colleagues on both sides of the aisle to take a stand against the policy.

"When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter on that dusty field in Iraq, I didn't care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white, male or female. All that mattered was they didn't leave me behind," Duckworth, a former U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, said. "If you are willing to risk your life for our country and you can do the job, you should be able to serve—no matter your gender identity or sexual orientation. Discrimination has no place in our military, it weakens our national security especially when we have an ever-shrinking portion of our population who are willing to serve in uniform."

"I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Congress will oppose this policy and show our service members that we have their backs," the Illinois senator added.

Reacting to the new rule, Aaron Belkin, the director of the Palm Center, which studies gender, sexuality and the military, accused the Trump administration in a statement published online of determined to "bring back 'don't ask, don't tell,' a policy that forced service members to choose between serving their country and telling the truth about who they were.

"The Trump administration has chosen prejudice and politics over the truth of open service as revealed by the testimonies of dozens of medical and military leaders and the service and sacrifice of 14,700 transgender service members," Belkin said. "In almost three years of open service, these troops built a strong record of achievement and earned the support of every service chief.

"Even leaders who supported 'don't ask, don't tell' at the time later came to believe that it had failed, harming readiness rather than improving it," Belkin said. "That will be the fate of this bigoted policy on transgender service as well."

As the Palm Center noted, recent polls conducted by Quinnipiac University and Dalia Research found that at least 70 percent of Americans support allowing transgender Americans to serve in the military.

Top military officials have also expressed support for letting transgender troops serve, including the chiefs of all military service branches.

It was only a few years ago that the Obama administration ended the policy of discharging service members because they were transgender.

In 2016, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that transgender people could serve openly, with the military asserting that by July 1, 2017, transgender applicants would be allowed to enlist.

But the Trump administration pushed back the enlistment date, with the government calling for further studies to determine whether allowing transgender people to serve would have any affect on military effectiveness.

Then, early in his presidency, the U.S. leader announced in a tweet that the government would not be accepting or allowing transgender people to serve in the military "in any capacity," asserting that the military "must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgenders in the military would entail."

In a statement published online, the National Center for Transgender Equality called the Trump administration's new policy a "tragic reversal of a historic step forward for the United States.

"The start of this looming purge represents an unprecedented step backward in the social and civil progress of our country and our military," Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy for the center, said in a separate statement.

"Throughout our nation's history, we have seen arbitrary barriers in our military replaced with inclusion and equal standards. This is the first time in American history such a step forward has been reversed, and it is a severe blow to the military and to the nation's values," Tobin said.

Calling on Congress to take action, Tobin said: "The Trump administration is built on demonizing minority groups, reversing the civil rights gains of immigrants, people of color, women, and the LGBTQ movement will forever remain the hallmarks of their time in office. That is why Congress must act now and secure the fate of nearly 15,000 transgender troops.

"We cannot let an incompetent administration guided by a petulant bigot stand as the mascot of our time," Tobin added. "History is watching Congress, and will judge them harshly for inaction. That is why we must act swiftly to protect transgender troops, our military and the dignity of our own legacy."

This article has been updated with a statement from Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.

Nancy Pelosi Slams Donald Trump Over 'Bigoted, Disgusting' Pentagon Rule That Will Bar Transgender Troops From Transitioning | U.S.
{{label}}
{{title}}
EDITOR'S PICK