March 12, 2019

Pentagon to Reinstate ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ for Transgender Troops

New Policy Will Prevent Transgender Service Members From Serving Unless They Remain Closeted

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The Palm Center released the following statement by director Aaron Belkin in reaction to today’s Defense Department release of a new memo outlining its transgender service ban (the Pentagon currently remains under court order to explain its authority to implement the ban before all preliminary injunctions have been lifted):

“Today 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. In almost three years of open service these troops built a strong record of achievement and earned the support of every service chief. The Trump administration is 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. 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. That will be the fate of this bigoted policy on transgender service as well.”

Two recent polls, by Quinnipiac and Dalia Research, found that 70% of respondents favor allowing transgender Americans to serve in the military. Top military officials have been overwhelmingly supportive of letting qualified transgender troops serve, including the chiefs of all the military service branches. In response to the first ever Congressional hearing on transgender military inclusiveness, three former service secretaries stated that Defense Department officials misled Congress.