SAN FRANCISCO, CA – In advance of Monday’s Democratic Iowa caucuses, the Palm Center today released an updated voter guide to where all major presidential candidates stand on the issue of military service by transgender Americans. All the top Democratic candidates have stated that they support ending the transgender ban, which the Trump administration reinstated in April 2019 despite ongoing litigation. But Palm Center director Aaron Belkin cautioned that candidates should not underestimate the resistance they may face in repealing the ban, and that voters want assurance that candidates have a specific strategy to get it done.
“If the fight over repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and the original transgender ban have taught us anything, it’s that anti-LGBTQ forces will do everything in their power to block equality and inclusion,” said Belkin. “Iowa is voters’ first opportunity to decide which candidate they believe has a specific, viable strategy to lead a military that ends discrimination and supports all our troops. Just as candidates have been pressed on their policy details on health care, climate change, taxes, and foreign policy, they will need to show voters precisely how they’ll meet the challenges of repealing the transgender ban.”
The chiefs of all five military branches have stated that inclusive policy—which was in effect from June 30, 2016 until April 12, 2019—was a success, with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley reporting that there had been “precisely zero” problems. But President Trump, who stands alone among all the major candidates—of both parties—in supporting discrimination, reinstated the ban anyway. Polls consistently show that roughly two-thirds of Americans favor allowing transgender Americans to serve.