House Democrats are calling on President Donald Trump to reverse his transgender military ban, arguing the policy is “detrimental to our national security, ill-advised, and contrary to the values upon which our nation was built.”
Reps. A. Donald McEachin of Virginia, Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts, and Pramila Jayapal of Washington sent the letter, which was signed by 140 Democratic congressmen, to the president Tuesday.
Trump signed a directive on Aug. 25 formally banning the recruitment of trans servicemen, alleging trans troops are a disruption to the military and burden the government with unnecessary medical expenses.
“There is no place for discrimination in our Armed Forces or indeed anywhere else in American society. Enforcing your ban could mean discharging active duty soldiers, sailors, Marines, and members of the Air Force who are serving honorably,” the members wrote. “It also would mean barring other patriotic Americans from serving in the future.”
The congressmen blasted Trump’s comments, saying transgenders in the military lead to exponential medical costs, and the annual amount spent on treatment would equate to “the cost to taxpayers of four of your weekend trips to Mar-a-Lago resort.”
“There is also no evidence to support your claim about the ‘tremendous medical costs’ associated with transgender service members,” the letter reads. “The same RAND Corporation study suggests that if transgender individuals were officially allowed to serve openly, the annual cost of resultant gender transition-related medical costs would likely not exceed $8.4 million.”
The lawmakers expressed concerns over the process in which the ban was crafted, saying they believe national security issues require debate and consideration.
“We are troubled by your apparent refusal to appropriately consult with relevant advisors, experts, or military leaders,” they said. “News reports have characterized your ban as a ‘snap decision’ that “caught [the Pentagon] off guard.”
Democratic lawmakers aren’t the only ones pushing back against the move, two civil rights organizations have filed lawsuits against the order.
Defense Secretary James Mattis has six months to develop a plan to implement the directive, The New York Times reports.
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