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MILITARY

Trans Vets Rip Trump’s Comments on Military Ban President doubles down on new policy banning thousands from the military BY MATT TRACY

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resident Donald Trump used a June 5 interview with Piers Morgan of “Good Morning Britain” to stigmatize transgender service members and make false, incoherent, and generalized statements about healthcare costs associated with them. Trans vets are not having it. The president sat down with Morgan during his trip to Europe and defended his discriminatory decision to ban transgender service members from the military, saying that “they take massive amounts of drugs” while suggesting trans people are going into the military to pay for their surgical procedures. During his rambling statements, he also falsely said people are not allowed to take drugs in the military. “We’d actually have to break rules and regulations in order

THE WHITE HOUSE/ SHEAL AH CRAIGHEAD/FLICKR

Transgender military veterans soundly debunked comments made by President Trump during an interview with Piers Morgan.

to have that,” he asserted about trans service members taking

medications. “It is what it is… The operation is $200,000, $250,000,

the recovery period is long, and they have to take large amounts of drugs after that … You can’t do that.” Then, referring to the policy banning transgender service members that went into effect on April 12, Trump continued, “So I said yeah, when it came time to make a decision, and because of the drugs, and also because of the cost of the operation.” The president’s answers during the interview were so unhinged that even the Department of Defense had to begin cleaning up his mess in the aftermath. The DoD refuted Trump’s claims in a statement to Gay City News on June 6, stating that the military “covers all approved medically necessary treatments and prescription medications.” Furthermore, the department asserted that those who were di-

➤ VETS RIP TRUMP, continued on p.13

Trans Ban Rollout Marked By Secrecy, Chaos Some branches refuse to reveal discharges, others admit not keeping track of them BY MATT TRACY

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S military branches are either withholding details about how many service members have been discharged as part of the April 12 ban on transgender troops or denying any discharges have taken place, based on interviews with spokespersons representing each of them. And there are signs of serious dysfunction in the way the policy has been carried out, including apparent misrepresentation of it by the Pentagon itself. Representatives from multiple military branches told Gay City News that the discharge of transgender service members is not tracked at all, reflecting a level of disorganization reminiscent of the Trump administration’s fam-

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ily separation policy in which government officials failed to reunite families after ripping them apart at the border. A spokesperson for the Department of Defense initially told Gay City News that the military would provide the number of service members discharged as part of the policy. But when the branches were contacted individually, the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines offered a variety of responses, with two essentially dead-ending the discussion by making clear they would not be providing transparency in the way they are carrying out the ban first announced by President Donald Trump in a July 2017 tweet. After a protracted legal battle that is not definitively concluded, the new policy was finally implemented this year.

Trump, who has stacked the federal courts with far-right justices at every turn, appeared to land a victory in the ongoing fight on June 14 when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said a lower court ruling against Trump’s ban did not take into consideration the difference between the ban proposed by former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the original ban announced by Trump in 2017. The military has insisted that the new policy does not constitute a blanket ban on transgender service members because certain service members are exempt from the policy — a key piece of the administration’s effort to uphold the ban in court. That narrative has widely been rejected because transgender troops with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria would be presumptively

disqualified for service unless they were already serving and willing and able to serve in their biological gender at birth. No matter how the policy is spun by the military — and a Pentagon spokesperson repeatedly insisted that trans folks, under certain circumstances, could serve in their true gender identity — transgender folks are effectively banned from the military. Inquiries sent to the military specifically asked how many people have been discharged as part of “the policy,” but multiple branches of the military did not answer that question, instead turning to their narrative that the military does not ban people on the basis of gender identity alone.

➤ TRANS BAN ROLLOUT, continued on p.26 June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc

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