September 19, 2017

Hoyer Signs Letter Against Transgender Ban

transgender ban

More than 140 members of the US Congress have penned a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to reconsider his ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces. House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) joined Rep. A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), Rep. Joe Kennedy III (MA-04), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), and others in sending the letter.

“Not only does it run contrary to the values of our nation and the counsel of our military leaders, but it undermines national security and military readiness,” Whip Hoyer said in a statement. “I strongly urge the president to reconsider his decision and work with Congress to ensure our military is strong and inclusive.”

The letter stressed that the armed forces should never be a place for discrimination against those who are willing to serve. If the ban is enforced, it would cause the discharge of active duty sailors, soldiers, Marines, and members of the Air Force who have served honorably. It would also bar patriotic Americans from serving in the future. Both results would be detrimental to national security, ill-advised, and contrary to the values upon which this country was built.

Thousands of active-duty service members are transgender. Contrary to the rhetoric of this president, their service has never caused “disruption” or “burdened” our military. Instead, their sacrifices have made this nation stronger and safer. Servicemembers who are transgender wear the same uniform and complete the same missions as their peers who are cisgender. In combat, they are subject to equal peril. These soldiers serve with equal distinction; and most notably, they are equally deserving of our repect and gratitude.

Writers of the letter are trying to get the president to understand that a ban denies the value of transgender servicemembers, and calls the professionalism of other service members into question.

The armed forces have become more equal and inclusive over time, often in the face of opposition. In 1948, President Truman began to racially integrate the military, and many people protested. There was more protest in 2010, when Congress at last repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“At every turn, those voices have been proven wrong. Again and again, members of excluded groups have shown that they can serve with distinction; again and again, the military has proved that it can be a respectful home for all,” the letter states.

The letter goes on to say that the claims that there are “tremendous medical costs” associated with transgender servicemembers is false, and there has been no evidence to support it. In fact, the letter shows that the annual costs of transition-related medical costs is about the same as four of the president’s trips to Mar-a-Lago.

The letter also confronts the process in which the ban was created, which included no advisers, experts, or military leaders. “Decisions that touch on national security demand careful consideration and responsible debate; anything less endangers the American people,” the letter states.

Lastly, the writers call out the clear unconstitutionality of the ban. Existing case law makes it clear that the government cannot discriminate against transgender people on the basis of their status or sex – and the military is not exempt from constitutional requirements.

Signers of the letter include A. Donald McEachin, Joseph P. Kennedy, III, Pramila Jayapal, Steny H. Hoyer, James E. Clyburn, and Joseph Crowley, among many others.

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For more information about House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, visit his Leader Page.

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