June 18, 2019

Acting Defense Secretary Nominee Esper Lied About Transgender Policy

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Mark Esper, who President Trump plans to name as Acting Defense Secretary, lied about transgender military service during a June 6 CNN interview. In response to CNN host Christine Amanpour’s query as to whether the military accepts transgender applicants “like any other person [if] they’re able to serve,” Esper answered affirmatively, adding that “We look at each individual as they come in” and that “there’s no blanket ban” on transgender applicants to the military.

According to Palm Center director Aaron Belkin, however, Esper’s claim was untrue. “To affirm that the military evaluates transgender individuals ‘like any other person’ is an outright lie. The military’s transgender ban is a ban, as numerous federal courts have affirmed. Fully fit and fully capable transgender individuals are banned from military service as a result of separate standards that apply only to them, and to no other troops.”

In attempting to explain his support for the transgender ban, Esper added that the 85 percent of soldiers who do not serve in infantry positions “provide no value to me.”