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U.S. Military Chiefs Fights Trump’s Trans Ban in The Army

Under rules introduced by former U.S. President Barack Obama, the country's military did not distinguish between trans men and women and other service personnel.

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Gender Justice League executive director Danni Askini speaks during a press conference following oral arguments in a case to block a transgender military ban at the U.S. Western District Federal Courthouse, March 27, 2018, in Seattle. VOA

Four senior retired U.S. military officers on Tuesday blasted a legal ruling backing President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the armed forces as “wrong” ahead of a key decision from the country’s top court on Friday.

The officers said a ruling last week by a Washington appeals court in favor of a ban on transgender recruits was misguided and backed an earlier decision that such a policy would violate their constitutional rights.

“The D.C. Court of Appeals made an error when it lifted one of the injunctions that protect transgender members of our military,” said retired officers Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy, Rear Admiral John Hutson, Major General Gale Pollock and Brigadier General Clara Adams-Ender.

“The need for an injunction protecting transgender people who serve their country remains precisely the same,” they said in a joint statement obtained exclusively by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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President Donald Trump talks with reporters as he gets a briefing on border wall prototypes, in San Diego, California March 13, 2018. VOA

In July 2017, Trump tweeted that transgender people would be banned from serving in the U.S. military, citing the “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”

Former defense secretary Jim Mattis last year proposed allowing trans individuals currently serving to remain.

However, new transgender recruits and trans servicemen and women who sought to transition after the ban took effect would be barred.

In its ruling, the Washington appeals court said the Mattis proposal did not represent a “blanket ban” on trans individuals.

But the retired chiefs said the rationale for the Mattis policy and the Trump tweets was “the same — politics, not military expertise — and courts should not be deferring to it.”

A 2016 RAND Corporation survey estimated that there were between 1,300 and 6,600 trans men and women on active duty in the 1.3-million-strong U.S. military.

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U.S. Army Soldier in Afghanistan. Flickr

“The Trump tweets and the Mattis policy take aim at the same people: troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria,” said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, an independent research institute that focuses on LGBT+ people and the military.

“They ban the same thing: gender transition. They have the same effect: forcing transgender troops to live a lie and denying them medically necessary care.”

Other LGBT+ rights organizations echoed Belkin’s concerns.

The administration is “trying to package this as an entirely new policy, but all it does is what President Trump ordered: ban openly transgender people from bravely serving their country,” said Tara Borelli, counsel at Lambda Legal.

Ryan Thoreson, an LGBT+ researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “Wording the Mattis policy slightly differently doesn’t change the plain fact that this is and always has been a ban on transgender service.”

Also Read: Donald Trump To Address The Nation on Ongoing Border Crisis

Under rules introduced by former U.S. President Barack Obama, the country’s military did not distinguish between trans men and women and other service personnel.

Trump has requested the matter be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which will convene on Friday to decide whether to review the three injunctions still in place. (VOA)

Next Story

Signs Of The U.S. Government Shutdown Ending May Soon Be Emerging

Pelosi had suggested Trump postpone the annual State of the Union address, a Washington tradition and a platform for his border wall fight with Democrats.

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President Donald Trump speaks about American missile defense doctrine, Jan 17, 2019, at the Pentagon. VOA

The first tangible signs of movement may be emerging in the impasse that has shut down the government for weeks: President Donald Trump is promising a “major announcement” about the closure and the U.S.-Mexico border and Democrats are pledging more money for border security.

It was unclear whether the developments, following days of clashes between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., might represent serious steps toward resolving the partisan fight or instead may simply be political posturing as the partial shutdown reached a record 29th day. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers have gone without paychecks, enduring financial hardship. Many public services are unavailable to Americans during the closure.

The White House has declined to provide details about what the president would announce midafternoon Saturday. Trump was not expected to sign a national emergency declaration he has said was an option to circumvent Congress, according to two people familiar with the planning.

Instead, he was expected to propose the outlines of a deal that the administration believes could have the potential to pave the way for a shutdown end, according to one of the people. They were not authorized to publicly discuss details about the impending announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.

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From left, President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. VOA

 

Democrats are now proposing hundreds of millions of dollars for new immigration judges and improvements to ports of entry from Mexico but nothing for the wall, a House aide said, as the party begins fleshing out its vision of improving border security.

Trump’s refusal to sign spending bills that lack $5.7 billion he wants to start constructing that wall, which Democrats oppose, has prompted the shutdown.

Whatever the White House proposed would be the first major overture by the president since Jan. 8, when he gave an Oval Office address trying to make the public case for the border wall. Democrats have said they will not negotiate until the government reopens, raising questions about how Trump might move the ball forward.

Democrats were proposing $563 million to hire 75 more immigration judges, who currently face large backlogs processing cases, and $524 million to improve ports of entry in Calexico, California, and San Luis, Arizona, the Democratic House aide said. The money is to be added to spending bills, largely negotiated between the House and Senate, that the House plans to vote on next week.

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Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-California, opposed to immigration raids targeting Central American families with children. VOA

In addition, Democrats were working toward adding money for more border security personnel and for sensors and other technology to a separate bill financing the Department of Homeland Security, but no funds for a wall or other physical barriers, the aide said.

It was possible Democrats would introduce that measure next week as the cornerstone of their border security alternative to Trump’s wall, the aide said. Earlier Friday, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., who leads the House Appropriations Committee’s homeland security subcommittee, said in an interview that some Democrats were asking leaders, “What is our plan?”

The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the details publicly.

In a video posted on his Twitter feed late Friday, Trump said both sides should “take the politics out of it” and “get to work” to “make a deal.” But he also repeated his warnings, saying: “We have to secure our southern border. If we don’t do that, we’re a very, very sad and foolish lot.”

Few would argue that a humanitarian crisis is unfolding at the U.S.-Mexico border, as the demand for entry by migrants and the Trump administration’s hard-line response overwhelm border resources. But critics say Trump has dramatically exaggerated the security risks and they argue that a wall would do little to solve existing problems.

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Migrants from Cuba, Venezuela and Central America queue at the Paso del Norte International Bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, to cross the border and request political asylum in the United States, Jan. 9, 2019. VOA

Trump’s Friday evening tweeted announcement came after Pelosi on Friday canceled her plans to travel by commercial plane to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan, saying Trump had caused a security risk by talking about the trip. The White House said there was no such leak.

It was the latest turn in the high-stakes brinkmanship between Trump and Pelosi that has played out against the stalled negotiations.

Also Read: U.S. President Donald Proposes Deal To End Shutdown

Pelosi had suggested Trump postpone the annual State of the Union address, a Washington tradition and a platform for his border wall fight with Democrats. It is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 29.

Trump never responded directly. Instead, he abruptly canceled Pelosi’s military flight on Thursday, hours before she and a congressional delegation were to depart for Afghanistan on the previously undisclosed visit to U.S. troops. (VOA)